September 12, 2021
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Kerevi reveals why he played in Japan

Fiji-born Olympian and Wallaby Samu Kerevi has revealed that he wanted to create memories with his sibling and that is why he joined Suntory, a Japanese club.

In an interview with rugby.com.au, Kerevi said being an elder brother he wanted to spend time with his younger sibling Jone.

Elder brother Josua and younger sibling Jone both live and play in Japan and were Kerevi’s significant factors in his original decision to leave Australia two years ago.

“My little brother (Jone) was the biggest factor in the whole thing,” Kerevi explained.

“I prayed about the situation, what I needed, what my family needed and being there for him.”  

“I missed out on a lot of my little brother’s life while I was growing up in Australia and he was in Fiji. I wanted to be part of his growth as a man.”  

“I’m creating memories with them in Japan,” Kerevi said.  

Kerevi was a baby when his grandparents brought him to Brisbane in search of a better life. His two brothers stayed in Fiji with their parents.  

The link with Suntory is strong because Kerevi has only been able to embark on this year’s heady ride because of the club’s backing. 

“Suntory have been so supportive of me taking any opportunities because we do play a short season in Japan.” 

Even though the Australian men bowed out before the medal matches in sevens at the Olympics, the punt on Kerevi was a success. 

When the Australians urgently needed something against Argentina in pool play, substitute Kerevi set up one try and scored another himself with a stutter-step in a painful loss. 

Whether Kerevi returns to Super Rugby in 2023 or stays on in Japan is unclear. 

“I’m enjoying my time in Japan. It’s not just a decision on whether to comeback for the gold jersey. There are a lot of pieces to that question of whether to stay overseas or come back,” he said. 

The powerhouse centre is still pinching himself at the “massive blessing” that has fallen his way in the space of a few short weeks. 

Playing at the Tokyo Olympics and a surprise recall to the Wallabies to face the All Blacks in Perth stunned him, not once but twice. 

The affable Kerevi openly admits he thought he’d given up his chance to represent Australia again when he made his decision to link with Suntory in Japan after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Instead, the 27-year-old is contemplating the possibilities that lie ahead in The Rugby Championship, the 2023 World Cup in France and even the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

Against the All Blacks, Kerevi quickly reminded fans of the impact he can have with a big fending run even though the play was voided by an illegality at the ruck. 

His double-involvement in the Wallabies’ first try just after half-time was something we have all been wanting to see. 

After the initial Tate McDermott break, he chased hard in support and jumped into acting halfback to deal a short ball to lock Mat Philip.

He was the biggest No.9 in world rugby for the next ruck too when he snapped a long pass to Folau Fainga’a so the hooker could crash over. 

Passing subtleties have never been a Kerevi strong suit but in that 30-second snapshot he showed some of the skill refinements he has worked on in Japan. 

Kerevi’s stats for a busy Test read 23 ball-carries, 97 running metres, four tackle busts, three offloads and 10 passes when the dust settled on the disappointing 38-21 loss in Perth. 

He had as many ball-carries as outside men Len Ikitau (seven), Andrew Kellaway four) and Marika Koroibete (12) combined. 

That suggests there is still a balance to reach where there are shades to the backline beyond play ending with Kerevi carting the ball hard into the defence. 

Kerevi’s 34 Tests do establish him as one of the Wallabies’ most experienced midfield backs and that factor must appeal to coach Dave Rennie as he assembles so many inexperienced jigsaw pieces ahead of France 2023. 

By Romeka Romena  

 


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