The Super Rugby match-up that will show whether Reds centre is ready for Wallaby recall

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

A streamlined Chris Feauai-Sautia can put himself in the frame for a Wallabies recall with a strong showing against Australia's form outside centre in Canberra tonight.

Feauai-Sautia earnt two Test caps in 2013 but has not added to his tally since, due to a horror run with injuries that has so often halted his promising career.

But after stripping more than 6kg from his frame in the off-season, Feauai-Sautia is injury free and in the best form of his career as the Reds head into their final match of the season against the Brumbies and star centre Tevita Kuridrani in Canberra tonight.

Reunited with Brisbane State High School teammate Samu Kerevi in a potent Reds midfield, Feauai-Sautia's strong running has been a feature for Queensland and a joy for a man who has so often missed more rugby than he has played in a season.

"I think just staying consistent (has been the key to my season)," Feauai-Sautia said.

"I've had a lot of injuries, so staying injury free … I think this is one of my first seasons where I've gone the whole season without big injuries, so I'm pretty happy about it."

Chris Feauai-Sautia scores a try against the Waratahs, one of five for the season so far. Photo: Getty Images

Feauai-Sautia missed The Reds' clash against the Chiefs last month with a knee injury that turned out to be relatively innocuous but initially spooked the big centre.

"When I did do it, I was scared, I was thinking about all the times I've had big injuries.

"But I wasn't too bad with the results I got back the next day, so I was pretty stoked."

It was a blessing for Feauai-Sautia, whose career has been marred by major injuries that have taken him from the field for significant periods of time and stunted the representative career of the schoolboy star.

Ahead of this season though, he followed trainers' plans to the letter and stripped several kilos from his frame to start the season in top shape.

"I just stuck to what they said," Feauai-Sautia said.

Chris Feauai-Sautia (with ball) has partnered magnificently with Samu Kerevi (right) in the centres this season. Photo: Getty Images

"I got my weight down, I was a bit fat back then (when I was always getting injured).

"Coming into this year I've probably lost six or seven kilos and I think that's helped a lot."

Many thought the Reds would be one-dimensional playing twin battering rams Kerevi and Feauai-Sautia in the centres but the pair have thrived together.

"Obviously I played with Samu at school and Samu was a really big part of our team," Feauai-Sautia said.

"There was talk that we played the same but we've noticed that if we just change our game a bit - Samu is more of a ballplayer now - it helps me a lot with my running game, and him too.

"We share the load, so it helps the team a lot.

"And it poses questions to the defence in the teams we play, so it's not the same thing."

Chris Feauai-Sautia (with ball) and Jordan Petaia (left) promoting the clash of their old school Brisbane State High and Nudgee College in a curtain-raiser to the Wallabies-Argentina Test alongside State High students Wian Joubert (at left) and Moses Jones. Photo: Getty Images

Kerevi formally announced on Friday he would head to Japan next season and it won't just be his skills the Reds miss next year but the way he connects with those around him.

He and Feauai-Sautia have a special intuition on the field and the captain is one of the reasons his centre partner is having such a strong year.

"It's always been like that, we just know each other's game very well and I just love playing alongside him," Feauai-Sautia said.

With five tries this season from 89 carries in which he has made 483m, Feauai-Sautia has caught the attention of Wallabies officials and he would love to add to his two Test caps.

"Just because of all my injuries it was frustrating (to be in the wilderness for so long) but I'm hoping to be back in the mix," he said.

"I can't control that … well, I can control that. All I have to do is just keep playing well and stay consistent and stay injury-free so I can make my way back into the team.

Chris Feauai-Sautia scores a try for the Wallabies against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2013. Photo: Getty Images

"I was in the last camp. I got some good feedback, some stuff I need to work on. It was good to get that feedback because it was stuff I didn't see in my game and it's helped me a lot."

He faces a big challenge tonight against Kuridrani but is finally in the form to welcome the contest.

"It'll be a very great challenge," he said.

"All the Australian derby games we play, you've got to try and make your make against your opposition.

" 'TV' (Kuridrani) is a really quality player and he's obviously the top 13 going around, so it will be good to go up against him and give it my best."

The Reds take on the Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday, June 15, from 7:45pm AEST, live on Fox Sports and via RUGBY.com.au radio.