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Eddie Jones issues update on Samu Kerevi's Barbarians injury

By Liam Heagney
Samu Kerevi (right) with fellow Barbarians Quade Cooper and Jack Maunder (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Wallabies boss Eddie Jones has given an update on the injury that forced Samu Kerevi out of Sunday’s Barbarians match after just 19 minutes. He also explained how coaching the world’s most famous invitational side this past week was invaluable with the countdown now on towards his first Rugby Championship match in charge of Australia on July 9.

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The ex-England boss, who was coaching at Twickenham for the first time since his unceremonious RFU sacking last December, further gave the thumbs up to the change in the eligibility rules that will allow the likes of World XV duo Israel Folau and Charles Piutau the opportunity to play for Tonga at the upcoming Rugby World Cup after previous caps with Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Jones’ Barbarians, who eventually won 48-42 in a 14-try thriller versus Steve Hansen’s World XV, were trailing 5-21 when Kerevi exit the proceedings. His Baa-Baas selection at inside centre alongside out-half Quade Cooper was interpreted as an indication of how the Wallabies selection might unfold in six weeks’ time away to South Africa.

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However, despite Kerevi starting promisingly, he was sidelined by the time the Barbarians hit their straps to motor into a 31-28 interval lead. Jones, though, later downplayed the significance of the knock when holding court downstairs in the stand-up mixed zone area of the Twickenham media centre.

“Just a tiny little strain in his hamstring,” he ventured. “It’s to be expected coming back from a knee recon. I liked what I saw. Powerful, quick, incisive. We will get him right for the Rugby Championship and then for the World Cup.

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“They have had a whole week together,” he added in reference to the Kerevi/Cooper partnership. “It’s been useful. It’s been like having a mini-training camp with those two there for the Wallabies. We thank the Barbarians for doing that.”

Having not done any hands-on match-week coaching since the final November week of his England tenure, Jones was chuffed that his time with the Barbarians can now help him to get more quickly up to speed when the Wallabies assemble for their Championship opener in Pretoria.

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“Enormously important,” he admitted. “I have had a smile all week, being able to coach on the field, practice getting a team together in a short period of time. A lot of it is the players but you have got to know when to give them room and when to step in. It was great practice for me. Invaluable.

“That’s the aim, mate, that’s the aim,” he added when asked if we will see the best of Jones straight off with the Wallabies. He flies home on Monday but could perhaps do with a visit to an audiologist before he takes off given his claim that he didn’t hear the frequent booing of Folau from a fair chunk of the 33,000 crowd.

“I didn’t hear it, I was watching the game,” he said about the fans repeatedly getting on Folau’s back on an afternoon when the RFU flew the pride flag from the top of the stadium. The Folau issue that Jones was more willing to talk about was the player’s change in allegiance from Australia to Tonga ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France from September.

“If you look at Piutau and Folau, they will make a hell of a difference to Tonga and that Seta Tamanivalu (who was capped by the AllBlacks), we have got to play against him (and Fiji at RWC).

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“I might have to tell him to quieten down because he is one hell of a player, one hell of a player. Some of the running lines he was running, attacking inside shoulders, getting outside shoulders, being able to offload was first class.

“We want all good players to be playing international rugby and for him [Folau] to get the opportunity to play again, that three-year rule from World Rugby is a very sensible rule. It gives players who have represented other countries and have natural allegiances to another country a chance to play. That is very good.”

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Final topic? The decision by Harry Potter, the 2022 Gallagher Premiership title winner at Leicester, to secure an early release from his Tigers contract so that he can go and try his luck back in Australia. Does that development make him a Wallabies contender?

“I have had a chat with him but I haven’t had a chat with him about this particular situation. We had a chat previously when I went back to Australia about the possibility of him coming back and what the opportunities were.

“He has taken up in that which is good for Australia, not good for the Tigers. It is another player that adds depth to Australian rugby. He is a good player, and he is determined to make the most of his career which is important.”

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