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Samu Kerevi earns surprise Wallabies recall

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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Wallabies fans are set for another blast from the past with Samu Kerevi following in the footsteps of Quade Cooper and earning a surprise recall to the national squad.

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Kerevi will link up with the Wallabies for the third Bledisloe Cup test, set to be played in Perth at the end of August.

Kerevi is currently in managed isolation, having returned to Australia from Japan where he represented the national sevens side.

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The 27-year-old midfielder played 29 matches for the Wallabies from 2016 to 2019 but left Australia following the 2019 Rugby World Cup to link up with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan on a three-year deal.

While pre-season training has already begun for many Japanese sides ahead of next year’s inaugural Rugby League One competition, the Sungoliath will have to manage without their barnstorming midfielder for a little while longer.

Coach Dave Rennie is able to select two players in the squad who are based outside of Australia and have played fewer than 60 tests to their name. Toulon utility back Duncan Paia’aua is the other player to be selected under that criteria.

Kerevi will take the place in the Wallabies squad of one of a number of players who are expected to take a short leave of absence in the coming weeks.

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“We have three or four guys who may have to leave to be with their partners who are giving birth soon, and we don’t even know if they can go home and then come back. It’s getting hard to juggle,” Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“He showed really good commitment to want to come back for the Olympics, he’s in great nick and in light of our COVID situation, the board approved the request to strengthen the depth of the squad.

“Once he’s in the squad, he’s fighting for a spot. He’s got the right to that. He’s not in there to hold tackle bags. We want everyone competing in that squad.”

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“The big thinking for us around Samu is obviously, he’s still keen to play at international level, from a Covid perspective we’ve got concerns, Hunter’s baby girl is due September 1 so he’ll initially come to Perth but he could end up leaving early,” Rennie elaborated to News Corp.

“Once [Paisami] leaves, there’s no guarantees that he can come back or when we could get him back, depending on borders and where future tests are played.

“So Samu’s availability helps alleviate that problem. With a couple of injuries, we can’t bring guys in from anywhere else, so Samu is a great option for us.”

Kerevi will be competing with the likes of Hunter Paisami, Len Ikitau, Matt To’omua and Jordan Petaia for a spot in the team, with the former two functioning well as a combination in the Wallabies’ 33-25 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday.

Previously, Kerevi told RugbyPass that he wasn’t sure whether he would ever make a return to the Wallabies and that he wouldn’t want to block the way of some of the new generation of players coming through the ranks.

“Even though we’ve had those conversations [about returning to Australia], the young guys coming through are going to make their own way,” he said.

“Those guys are the next generation. Why try get me back when you’ve got them?

“I want Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami to take over at Queensland, take over Timmy Horan’s legacy.”

With injuries playing their part in the make-up of the current Wallabies squad, however, and Kerevi already back in Australia, now seems the perfect time for the centre to make his return to the fold.

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Samu Kerevi earns surprise Wallabies recall

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