Former Wallabies centurion Matt Giteau has said on Twitter that the departure of Israel Folau has “allowed the birth of Samu Kerevi to play with total freedom”. 

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The utility back said this during Australia’s 35-17 loss to the Springboks in Johannesburg on Saturday, a game where Kerevi was one of the beaten team’s stand-out performers. 

Kerevi had been in superb form all Super Rugby season for the Reds and he carried that to Ellis Park against the Springboks. He was consistently able to break tackles and distribute the ball in contact, providing hope in a losing cause. 

A surging run of his almost set Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for a try, but his off-load was slightly forward. That still typified his performance and what he can bring to the team playing at inside centre. 

A performance like that was needed, as there have been questions ever since Folau’s contract with Rugby Australia was terminated as to who could provide a spark in the backline. 

Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge and Tom Banks are all great players, but none seem to pose the danger that Folau once did with ball in hand. 

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Kurtley Beale’s cameo at the end of the game at full-back perhaps suggests that he will start there for the rest of the Rugby Championship and going into the World Cup. The versatile Waratahs back set up Bernard Foley for a try in the second half to give the Wallabies hope late on. 

With Beale and Kerevi in the backline – and both in form – Michael Cheika will have less to worry about in filling the void left by Folau. The Wallabies were still comfortably beaten by the Springboks at the weekend but were offered glimmers of hope in the performance, one of which was the 25-year-old Kerevi. 

He has been in and out of the starting XV since making his debut in 2016 and is putting his international career on hold after the World Cup, but he looks to have secured the No12 shirt for the next few months. 

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WATCH: Wallaby coach Michael Cheika speaks to the media following the Australian squad’s arrival in Brisbane

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