Kerevi keen to stick with Kuridrani centre combination

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi hopes he and Tevita Kuridrani have the chance to continue to build on their growing partnership as the Bledisloe Cup approaches.

Australia has moved away from the dual playmaking midfield structure that they have preferred in recent years, starting Kerevi and Kuridrani in a more direct attacking approach for their opening two Tests.

Kuridrani is yet to fully find his attacking groove in the new-look structure, though he has been solid in defence, but Kerevi said he wanted to continue to try and work on their partnership in the coming Tests.

“I think it's going well, especially with KB (Kurtley Beale) and Christian that do most of the playmaking and during the week, KB was just trying to get the ball in our hands and run on those outside channels or inside channels,” he said.

“We've got a real combo going on - I wanted to get more ball for T especially from last week, they had a hard line D and for us, it's just getting more ball to those outside guys and getting Hodgey and Marika into the game, so we're really happy with that.”

Beale has been the Wallabies’ most-regular 12 in recent seasons but has returned to fullback this season, opening the door for the ball-carrying centres to be pursued.

The return of James O’Connor, adds another dimension to the mix with his best position considered to be inside centre, though he a

O’Connor replaced Kuridrani in the final 12 minutes of Saturday night’s Pumas clash, pushing Kerevi out to 13 but the Reds skipper hasn’t been nearly as effective in that channel as he is at inside centre.

Wallabies coach MIchael Cheika hinted post-match that O'Connor would have a bigger role to play in the future and that would likely be in the midfield, but exactly how that looks is unclear.

Kerevi said, though, he fed off O’Connor’s energy when the long-time Wallabies exilee returned to the international stage.

“Rabs got on and he was really excited,” he said.

“I was really happy for him to be on the field - it's been a long time between Test matches and even to be in Australia - I felt the contagious energy that he brought onto the field. 

“The first scrum I think we had he just wanted the ball, he was already telling me what space he's going to put me in or he's working that. 

“Just to have that energy off the bench is really awesome so really happy with him.”

The Wallabies have a week off before reconvening at the end of the week ahead of their August 10 Bledisloe opener in Perth.

New Zealand have played out two thrillers in the opening Rugby Championship rounds, just edging out Argentina and playing out a 16-16 draw with South Africa in Wellington on Saturday.

Kerevi said the key for that first trans-Tasman clash was finishing their chances, after leaving a handful of potential tries on the table in recent weeks.

“Against the All Blacks, they've been playing some awesome footy the last couple of years and even last night, it was a close game against South Africa and we just have to finish those opportunities that we do get,” he said.

“In Test footy, you don't get a lot of opportunities so making sure we finish on these opportunities.

“I thought we defended really well (against the Pumas)l. While there was a couple of linebreaks, I thought our hustle D was really good and I think we've just got to stay connected throughout the whole team.”

The Wallabies host New Zealand at Optus Stadium, Perth, on Saturday August 10, kicking off at 5:45pm local, 7;45pm AEST, LIVE on Network Ten, FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports and via RADIO.