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Ex-Wallabies star Samu Kerevi named in Australian Olympic sevens squad

By Alex McLeod
Samu Kerevi of the Wallabies. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Former Wallabies star Samu Kerevi has been named in Australia’s 12-man sevens squad to compete at the Tokyo Olympics later this month.

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Kerevi has been named as the highest-profile member in Tim Walsh’s squad as Australia narrow in on the Games, where they will look to challenge for a podium finish.

The 33-test international confirmed his switch from the XV-man game to sevens in May following the completion of the Top League in Japan, where he had been playing for Suntory Sungoliath.

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Walsh said at the time of Kerevi’s arrival in Sydney that there would be no guarantees the 27-year-old would make the cut for the Olympics, but it appears the Fijian-born powerhouse has done enough to force his way into the team.

Kerevi paid tribute to Walsh for keeping faith in him with only a short timeframe to prove himself worthy of selection.

“This is awesome and such a privilege to represent my country again,” Kerevi said, as per rugby.com.au.

“It was a bit of a roll of the dice and I rated my chances as very slim coming back from my medial ligament strain.

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“Walshy has backed me and I’ve still got a few more weeks to get up to speed with the running load and exactly the role the team need me to play.”

Kerevi, who featured twice for Australia at last weekend’s Oceania Sevens in Townsville, said he was “still pinching” himself at his selection and was thankful that Suntory Sungoliath had thrown their support behind his Olympic ambitions.

“Because we play a short Top League season, Suntory said to go for it if there was any opportunity. They’ve been very supportive and the only thing they’ve asked for is tickets to the sevens,” he joked.

Kerevi’s inclusion in the Australian squad is in stark contrast to New Zealand’s selection philosophy given All Blacks Sevens head coach Clark Laidlaw opted against picking All Blacks star Caleb Clarke in his 12-man squad to compete at the Games.

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Instead, the five-test wing has been named as one of three travelling reserves in a surprise omission that leaves New Zealand without their highest-profile player.

Australia, however, will be looking to fully utilise their star man, who is hopeful of bringing a medal back from the Japanese capital.

Walsh, meanwhile, congratulated those who will accompany Kerevi at what he described as “the most anticipated Olympics in history”.

“We are a diverse squad of individuals and skillsets and together we are ready to challenge the best players and teams in the rugby sevens world,” he said.

“Today we are both physically and mentally fit, thanks to players and management making performance choices and doing their job to their best ability.

“Congratulations to the final 12 and the entire Sevens program for delivering us to this point, the next month is going to be one to remember.”

The Australian women’s squad was also announced on Saturday, with 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallists Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams, Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite and Charlotte Caslick all included.

The men’s Olympic competition is scheduled to kick-off on July 26 and run until July 28, while the women’s competition is scheduled to run between July 29 and July 31.

Australian Men’s Sevens Olympics squad:

Lachlan Anderson
Joe Pincus
Dylan Pietsch
Nicholas Malouf
Henry Paterson*
Maurice Longbottom
Joshua Coward
Joshua Turner
Lachlan Miller
Samu Kerevi*
Dietrich Roache*
Henry Hutchison

Australian Women’s Sevens Olympics squad:

Shannon Parry
Sharni Williams
Faith Nathan
Dominique Du Toit
Emma Tonegato
Evania Pelite
Charlotte Caslick
Madison Ashby
Tia Hinds*
Sariah Paki
Demi Hayes
Maddison Levi*

* – denotes new cap

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Ex-Wallabies star Samu Kerevi named in Australian Olympic sevens squad

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