Tevita Kuridrani has backed him and Samu Kerevi to get it right if given another chance to form a power-packed midfield combination for the Wallabies.
Experienced outside centre Kuridrani bludgeoned his way into contention for selection in the big Rugby World Cup games to come with a man-of-the-match performance in the 45-10 dissection of Uruguay in Oita on Saturday.
Kuridrani bagged two tries and registered game-high numbers of 120m run and nine defenders beaten.
It’s a performance that pleased the Brumbies powerhouse, mainly because he hadn’t played for more than two months, a chunk of which was spent recovering from a hamstring injury.
“For me, it’s trying to prove that I’ve still got it with this performance and put my hand up for selection,” Kuridrani said.
The more subtle attacking skills of James O’Connor were favoured in the opening win over Fiji and the loss to Wales.
With vice-captain Kerevi a lock at inside centre, coach Michael Cheika has favoured the complementary skills of O’Connor at the tournament rather than put two Fijian-born power runners side by side.
While the pair failed to fire, Kuridrani believed they had learned plenty from the experience.
“Maybe at the start of the Rugby Championship we didn’t understand our roles a little bit,” Kuridrani said.
“But I reckon, for me especially, I’ve understood my role, what I need to do for the team.
“If we get given the chance again, I reckon it will be more different than when we started.”
Cheika conceded Kuridrani’s explosive performance put him in the mix for next week’s final pool game against Georgia and then, possibly, the knockout phase matches.
He said the 29-year-old had every opportunity to force selection.
Is there room at the inn for Japan?
There should be.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 5, 2019
“We’ve shown a bit more horses for courses in this tournament already,” Cheika said.
“We can have a James-type player as well at fullback, in the centre, and James has been playing well too. It’s a good contest.
“This was Tevita’s first game back and he’s certainly done himself no harm at all in selection going forward.”
Cheika said a corked thigh that ruled O’Connor out of a bench role in Saturday’s match was expected to heal quickly.
RugbyPass went underground in Tokyo to find one of the strangest entertainment acts you’ll ever come across:
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