'I'll do it this weekend, I'll do it every weekend': Kerevi 'comfortable and supported' to express religious beliefs

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Samu Kerevi says he will continue to express his religious beliefs and feels comfortable and supported by Rugby Australia in doing so.

The deeply religious Reds captain has been caught in the fallout from Israel Folau's controversial Instagram post, finding himself somehow linked to his Wallaby teammate's hurtful comments after he gave heartfelt praise to god after playing on good Friday, one of the most sacred days on the Christian calendar.

After those comments were spuriously linked to support for Folau's post in a media report of the Reds' match against the Sharks, Kerevi posted an "apology" on social media.

While his post may have been sarcastic, that nuance was lost by many.

But Kerevi said he was comfortable with his faith and would continue to express his thanks to a god he believes is responsible for him being able to perform as he does on the field.

"I'll do it this weekend, I'll do it every weekend," he said.

"For me it's about giving back to the man that's put me in this situation and given me this platform and that's who I am.


"Footy is just what I do. I'm really grateful for the opportunity and the platform that it gives me but I'll just play footy and give back the glory to the man that's given me so much."

Among those to have missed the sarcasm of Kerevi's "apology" was teammate Taniela Tupou, who caused further shockwaves on social media this week by suggesting Rugby Australia "might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs".

But Kerevi said people had taken what his teammate said "the wrong way".

"He's an emotional fella, he's just having my back and I love that about him," Kerevi said.

"But I'd rather have him do his talking on the field."

When a reporter joked Kerevi wouldn't want Tupou to be sacked, as the giant prop had suggested, the Reds captain said: "I don't want anyone to be sacked to be honest."

"It doesn't matter what we're doing, there's a lot of support coming from different ends and different people with different walks in their life, I'm getting a lot of support," he said.

 

Kerevi was among players to have "liked" Folau's controversial Instagram post in which the Waratahs back sent a "warning" to groups including "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters" that "hell awaits".

While he was unwilling to comment on whether he had been counselled for that by Rugby Australia or the Queensland Rugby Union, he said it had been "dealt with".

And he said he felt supported in being able to express his religious beliefs by Rugby Australia, something that should help shut down talk of a rift between the governing body and Pacific Islander players.

"I feel supported and we all do," he said.

"For me personally, I'm comfortable. I'm in a good place … I think people know where I stand with my faith."

Kerevi was due to be rested from the Reds' clash against the Sharks under the Wallabies' rotation policy but wanted to play to help Queensland break a 15-year drought in Durban.

"For me, I had to really pray about it because we were playing on Good Friday, on a day that's really important to a lot of Christians and to a lot of people, however you may see that weekend," he said.

 

"But it was a 15-year drought and getting the man of the match was something that I didn't expect and for me, it was the grace of god that I was able to perform like that and help the team perform the way they did.

"So for me, that's where my power, my grace and my love comes from and it's just about giving that honour back to Him, to God.

"If people took it the wrong way, I didn't mean to do it that way, it was just all out of love and gratitude."

Kerevi's "apology" for expressing his beliefs attracted plenty of hate on social media, with trolls attempting to bait the Reds captain and link his comments to hurtful expressions from Folau.

"It's funny to me, it's all good. I understand people like trying to do that but rugby is what I do and for me, it's not who I am," he said.

"If you want to have that conversation (about religion), people can come up to me personally and I'll talk about my faith and beliefs and I'll stand by it every day of the week."

The Reds take on the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, May 3, kicking off at 7:45pm and broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.