Samu Kerevi's quest to live out Olympic dream

Thu, 17/06/2021, 06:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Samu Kerevi is back to live the Olympic dream. Photo: Getty Images

When Samu Kerevi walked off the field after the Wallabies' quarter-final defeat to England in Rugby World Cup 2019, he wasn't sure when he'd get the chance to play his country again.

However, his return to Australian Rugby has been confirmed, albeit in a short-term capacity, after he was named in the Sevens squad to play in the PacificAus Sport Oceania 7s Championship.

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He has been named in the 13-man squad alongside the likes of Tim Anstee, Lewis Holland and Lachie Anderson, with the tournament set to take place on June 25-27 in Townsville.

Linking up with the squad last week after quarantine, Kerevi admits he wasn't sure when he'd next pull on the green and gold when he remained in Japan after the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

“The team’s been awesome, they’ve been really welcoming. (Tim) Walshy has done a really good job with the culture and the boys get around each other which is good,” Kerevi told reporters on Thursday.

“We had a chat (about making the move) during the Top League season. It was just chat at that stage but towards the end, it really knuckled down about me coming over and just wanting to contribute to the team for this year’s Olympics.

“The opportunity that Walshy and the players were giving to contribute once again to Australian Rugby has been good.

“After the World Cup, I thought that was it. You always have the urge to play high-level Rugby, especially playing for your nation. You never forgot that taste of that jersey when you get the honour of wearing it. To run out with 14 other mates of yours, I think it’s a really special thing to have in your career."

Andrew Kellaway runs down Will Jordan and brings him into touch right in the corner.

Despite his commitments and long-term deal with Suntory, the Japanese club was more than happy to facilitate the 27-year-old's quest to live out an Olympic dream.

“For (Suntory), it’s a massive honour to be a part of a national program and hopefully compete at the Olympics, it’s a dream of any kid,” Kerevi said.

“It’s definitely once in a lifeline to be able to do that and athletes have done it so many times.

"They were really happy with it and gave their blessings. They just asked for some tickets that’s it."

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Coach Tim Walsh admits there's no guarantee the hulking centre will be named in the Olympic squad when it's announced in early July.

However, the gold-medal-winning coach has been impressed with his immediate commitment and dedication to the program.

“He’s a great power runner and when you look at opportunities through COVID, it came up and Samu was on the radar. Suntory was really helpful and cooperative with making it happen with Seany McMahon and now Samu,” Walsh said.

“What our team almost lacks, he complements with his skill which is why he targeted by us… his power running, experience and offload game and just by the virtue of having a player of his calibre, it changes the dynamic of the squad.

“He’s had a big impact right away but there are no guarantees that he’s going to be picked, there’s still a few bit to go but so far, it’s very promising.

“…It’s a real privilege to have him here and his eagerness has been great. As soon as he got out of quarantine, he was at the door of Rugby Australia and all through it, he was asking for video, understanding and information.”

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