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Ex-Wallabies star Samu Kerevi latest high-profile player to switch to sevens ahead of Olympics

By Sam Smith
Samu Kerevi, whether deployed at 12 or 13, is a handful for any defence. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Former Wallabies star Samu Kerevi is set to join the Australian sevens set-up as he eyes a gold medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

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Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh confirmed Kerevi will join his squad after he undergoes hotel quarantine in Sydney following his arrival back in Australia after having just completed the Top League season with Suntory Sungoliath.

While Walsh has made no guarantees have been made that Kerevi will make the final squad to compete at the Olympics, the inclusion of the barnstorming midfielder in the national set-up will be a significant boost for Australia.

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“He’s Fijian – it’s in his blood. But it’s a big ask. There is no guarantee whatsoever,” Walsh told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“He’s a world-class 15s player but the sevens game is physically different. And it’s a team game.

“You have your combinations and your cohesion, but everything is magnified. Knowing your role and the ins and outs of sevens.

“It’s going to be difficult, but we’re certainly loving that he’s interested and wants to get a crack.“

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The 27-year-old was thought to be lost to Australian rugby when he announced he would move to Suntory Sungoliath following the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

However, he has been in regular contact with Walsh, who views Kerevi as an ideal candidate to bolster the Wallabies as Australia’s five Super Rugby franchises continue to search for their first win over their Kiwi counterparts in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

Before the 33-test international makes a decision on returning to the test arena, though, there is an Olympics campaign to be apart of, which is a hefty challenge in itself for a player who has never played international sevens before.

This isn’t the first time a high-profile Wallabies star has tried his luck at winning a place at the Olympics, as former first-five Quade Cooper joined the Australian squad ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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The mercurial playmaker was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt to become an Olympian, though, and Kerevi will have his work cut out for him if he’s to avoid the same fate as Cooper.

“We will just throw him in the deep end and see how he plays and trains,” Walsh said.

“He’s a fantastic player. And he’s certainly expressed a desire to be involved. I welcome that.

“But now it’s up to him to see if he can get himself not only in a position to play but to perform and make himself eligible.”

Should he make Australia’s Olympic squad, he could face off against fellow test star Caleb Clarke in Tokyo in July, as the five-test All Blacks wing threw his lot in with the All Blacks Sevens earlier this month.

Clarke, along with Chiefs flyer Etene Nanai-Setruo, marked their return to the New Zealand sevens side last week when they helped the All Blacks Sevens to a whitewash of Australia in a six-match series in Auckland.

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Ex-Wallabies star Samu Kerevi latest high-profile player to switch to sevens ahead of Olympics

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