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Eddie Jones explains why he's axed Samu Kerevi

By AAP
Fraser McReight of Australia consoles Samu Kerevi of Australia after a missed chance during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Coach Eddie Jones has dumped Wallabies spearhead Samu Kerevi for their last World Cup pool match against Portugal in the latest of his odd line-up selections.

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Jones has named a new centre combination, with Izaia Perese joining NSW teammate Lalakai Foketi as the Australians attempt to finish a disastrous campaign on a positive note.

They will know before they enter the Saint-Etienne match on Sunday (Monday AEST) whether their slim quarter-final hopes have been dashed, dependent on the outcome of the Fiji-Georgia game 24 hours earlier.

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If the Fijians win with a bonus point the Australians can start packing their bags.

Samu Kerevi
Samu Kerevi of Australia reacts after their team’s loss at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

A lack of experience in the Wallabies side was exposed in their record losses to Wales and Fiji, but Jones has opted to axe Kerevi and Jordan Petaia and bring in Foketi and five-Test Perese for his first World Cup match.

While he’s a specialist outside centre, Perese has never started a Test at 13.

With 48 caps, Kerevi hasn’t been at his best this tournament but still offers plenty of punch and with the team already missing injured captain Will Skelton, the 29-year-old brings vital leadership against world No.16 Portugal.

“Foketi has trained well the whole tournament and Samu has probably just been a little off,” Jones told reporters.

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“He’s had a tough run into the World Cup coming back from an ACL, two hamstring injuries and he just hasn’t been as sharp as we’d like him to be.

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“Jordy Petaia had a bit of a calf issue and he’s fit now but again with Izzy (Perese), he’s trained really well the whole World Cup and we feel both those two guys can do a really good job for us against against Portugal.”

In an unchanged front row, centurion James Slipper will break George Gregan’s record for the most World Cup matches by an Australian, making his 21st appearance.

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Fraser McReight has returned to the No.7 jersey with Tom Hooper switching to blin dside flanker with Rob Leota relegated to the bench.

With one Test under his belt, Josh Kemeny has been selected for his first World Cup appearance as the remaining forward cover.

Issak Fines-Leleiwasa has been named on the bench ahead of veteran halfback Nic White, with Tate McDermott partnering Ben Donaldson in the halves.

Jones said there would be an emphasis on attack, with the Wallabies failing to score a try in their 40-6 loss to Wales last round.

“This is an important game for this young team to attack from the first minute to the 80th,” Jones said.

“We need to empty the tank.”

Hooker Dave Porecki, who has been captain for the past two games said the players had regrouped after a rugged time and were hungry to prove a point.

“As a group it was a tough, that 24 hours after the game, and now we focus on what we can control which is our performance against Portugal,” Porecki said.

“We want to finish in the jersey the way we should and do our country proud with a win.

“That’ s all we can control and that’s all we’re focusing on.”

WALLABIES TEAM TO FACE PORTUGAL:

Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, David Porecki (capt), Angus Bell. Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Rob Leota, Josh Kemeny, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu.

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Comments

1 Comment
m
matt 299 days ago

This is what l love about Eddie. He has a chance to just talk positively about the debut of the centres but decides to also critique one of his senior players's performances.

I remember this guy saying Itoje needed acting classes to get him out of his shell to perhaps become England's captain. A) wrong B) wrong to say this in public. What a pleasure it must be to play for this narcissistic jerk

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