Kerevi finding feet at inside centre

International
by Sam Phillips

Having long resisted a move to inside centre, Samu Kerevi is starting to see why some pundits have long thought he is best suited at 12.

Kerevi has played the majority of his rugby at inside centre this season, Reds coach Brad Thorn opting for a pair of centres which can bend the gain line with regularity.

It's a move Kerevi has long been hesitant to make, having played the large majority of his post high school rugby at outside centre.

But with the Reds off to their best start to a season since 2013, Kerevi is finally feeling more comfortable with the 12 on his back.

"I'm definitely more comfortable now, playing consistently at 12," Kerevi told RUGBY.com.au.

"Like I have said in the past, I've always enjoyed playing 13 because that was the first position I shifted to from the forwards when I left (Brisbane) State High.

"All my learning has been at 13 but now, playing 12 more gives me more of an understanding of the game on the whole.Kerevi is finding his feet at inside centre. Photo: Getty Images"It helps me with kicking, my defence and I think playing at 12 is definitely going to be beneficial for my game at 13, as well."

Kerevi has copped some criticism for not involving those outside him more frequently and the star centre said he was well aware of the need to involve Queensland's outside backs.

"I always speak about it at training - that I want them to get their hands on the ball more," Kerevi said.

"Jordy (Petaia), Izaia (Perese), Filipo (Daugunu), Eto (Nabuli), they're all players that have X factor.

"But I think it just depends on the nature of the game once we are in it.

"We want to be direct first and I think Chris and myself are doing a good job at that.

"Duncan (Paia'aua) can do a good job at that too but there are definitely some opportunities to get the ball out even more - get Chris involved even earlier."

Kerevi is pouring over game tapes each week, finding new ways to exploit opposition that hone in on the threat that he and Feauai-Sautia pose in the middle of the field.Kerevi has enjoyed the shift to inside centre. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"If you watch the tapes, they're really starting to hone in on me and Chris," he said.

"We have two or three defenders each focusing on us so we have some opportunities out wide but you just have to earn the right.

"I have to see more, I'm basically a second playmaker now for us and it's good when Aidan is at the back as he can fill that role from out wide.

"But when I'm in that situation I have to look up now and I have to see that kicking space."

The 24-year-old now feels comfortable enough at inside centre to fill that need at Test level, should he be required, when Ireland arrive in June.

"I feel like I'm comfortable carrying the ball but seeing that space and identifying that space is coming a lot easier now that I've been playing 12 for Queensland," he said.

"It's a lot more physical and the speed is another level in Tests, too.

"But I'm feeling more comfortable now and I'm always going to do what the team needs me to do."