Kerevi keeping the faith in defence

International
by Sam Phillips

Blocking out the white noise surrounding the defensive side of the game has been imperative in making Samu Kerevi the full package, according to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Kerevi was named at outside centre for the first June Test on Thursday, reward for a superb season at both inside and outside centre for the Reds.

It's a call Cheika felt comfortable in making, declaring the queries regarding Kerevi's defence as unfounded.

"I don’t know why that’s in his head," Cheika said.

"I think other people say it so he thinks it is (an issue).

"He knows exactly what to do, he’s done it a million times and I trust him and back him to go do it, obviously, for 80 minutes - I haven’t picked a backup outside centreMichael Cheika has no concerns regarding Samu Kerevi's defence. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We have someone who can play there, obviously, but if I was worried about that I would have picked (Tevita Kuridrani) and he would cover Tevita.

"I’m not worried about that at all and he just needs to believe in himself because he has the full package, Samu."

Kerevi concurred with his coach, having blocked out the white noise at the start of this season.

"I think Cheik is right," Kerevi said.

"Last year I think I read into it too much - not just from journos - just in my own self throughout the game.

"Not having the confidence to make that hit when I could have.

"I guess I changed that mindset in preseason.Kerevi has had a superb season for the Reds. Photo: Getty Images"I said I'm fitter, I've done all the work, I should have the confidence to make those big plays.

"I back myself and everything else is just white noise.

"I back what the coaches have done for me both here in Queensland and in the Wallabies setup.

"They have confidence in me and I have confidence in myself."

Kerevi said he felt "blessed" to be awarded first crack at outside centre and expressed his delight for Reds rookies Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Caleb Timu, who were also named in the starting XV.

"I'm pretty close with both Brandon and Caleb and for them to get their debuts for me, was a pretty emotional day," he said.Kerevi is thrilled for Caleb Timu. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"To see that growth from preseason to Super Rugby, NRC and now to get that shot at the Wallabies - it's amazing for me and I know they'll take the opportunity with both hands.

"I know it's a big day for them and their families - it's exciting times."

And while there has been some confusion at training between Kerevi and Pete Samu, he also expressed his excitement for the Crusaders star, who he played with in the national academy in 2012.

"We call each other yaca - in Fijian it means namesake," Kerevi said.

"I've been trying to get the other boys to call him Pistol (Pete) so the other boys don't get confused as well.

"He didn't think he was going to be back here in Australia - it's funny how the world works - but he's really grateful to be here and he's working hard, rugby wise, to understand the shape and everything.

"He just wants to add to the team and that's the type of personality he is."

The Wallabies face Ireland in the first of three Tests on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio. Buy tickets here.