Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi caused quite a stir recently with comments made at a function in Fiji about switching allegiances ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 26-year-old said that he has moved from the Reds to Japanese outfit Suntory Sungoliath after his manager said that it will help him qualify for Fiji for the RWC in France. With only 33 caps to his name, Kerevi is now unable to represent Australia under the Giteau Law, which requires overseas players to have over 60 caps.
This has received the level of outrage that would be expected, with accusations of disloyalty being thrown at Kerevi. However, he has since responded, sharing a statement on Instagram, where he says his comments were taken out of context.
He said: “Disappointing to be taken out of context, quoted for things I didn’t say and when you’re having a bit of a laugh at a function. I’ve loved representing Fiji in my younger days and I am proud of my Fijian heritage but also extremely proud & honoured to be a Wallaby and all that Australia has done for my family & I.”
Regardless of what Kerevi did or did not say, it must be noted that under World Rugby’s current eligibility rules he would not be able to qualify for Fiji having played for Australia already, and a move to Japan would not change that.
The powerful centre also distanced himself from these comments, clearly showing the pride that he has representing the Wallabies, albeit he does not rule out the possibility of one day playing for Fiji should the rules change.
What seems to be the crux of his statement is that this was probably a joke that was taken literally or out of hand and it has caused unnecessary controversy.
Having been born in Fiji, it is understandable why Kerevi wants to support the country of his birth, however, he moved to Australia when he was four years old, and while he represented Fiji under-20s, the bulk of his rugby has been in and for Australia.
This was a huge year for the Wallaby, as he was not only named Australia’s Super Rugby player of the year, but was runner-up to fellow Fijian-born teammate Marika Koroibete for the John Eales Medal. It is therefore clear to see why both countries would be desperate for him to represent them.
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