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Why playing the All Blacks isn’t ‘the biggest thing’ Samu Kerevi looks forward to

By Finn Morton
Samu Kerevi poses during a Wallabies Rugby Championship Headshots Session at Sanctuary Cove on June 26, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The drawcard of potentially playing against the All Blacks isn’t the main motivator for Samu Kerevi as the Wallaby looks to return to Bledisloe Cup action for the first time in almost 700 days.

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Kerevi hasn’t faced the All Blacks’ haka or charged into a sea of black jerseys in Test rugby since a Rugby Championship clash between the trans-Tasman rivals in September 2021.

The 29-year-old suffered a cruel injury blow while on sevens duty at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and was sidelined for quite some time.

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But Kerevi returned to the Test arena off the bench against South Africa in Pretoria earlier this month, and started against Los Pumas in Sydney. The midfielder showed glimpses of promise during those two Tests.

But a significant challenge awaits.

After a “long layoff,” Kerevi could potentially come up against the All Blacks in this weekend’s opening Bledisloe Cup clash at the MCG. The teams will officially be announced on Thursday.

Pending selection, the Wallaby could line up opposite the All Blacks’ star-studded midfield duo of “world-class” utility Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane.

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It’s a tough challenge, but as Kerevi explained, playing the All Blacks isn’t “the biggest thing I look forward to.”

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“Nah, for me it’s an internal drive,” Kerevi told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “I want to be the best in the world just for me so I can contribute the best I can to the team.

“You look across the board at Test matches, they’re all tough now. You want to look forward to the World Cup – each pool has some teams there that you can’t take lightly, you can’t take anyone lightly.

“The All Blacks have been playing some great footy and I think the rivalry of the Bledisloe is what you look forward to but Argentina was a big matchup as well as South Africa. This weekend will be no different.

“There’s importance on every Test but I guess there is that element of the Bledisloe and that rivalry across the ditch, which always excites the boys.

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“But for me personally, my work-on is just every day, that’s the real battle. Saturday’s one day of the week or one day of the year I play the All Blacks or two, whatever it is.

“My battle every day is probably the biggest thing I look forward to.”

When Kerevi came off the bench against the Springboks, the Test was practically lost – with just under 30 minutes to play, the hosts led by 17.

The world champions showed their class during a dominant win in front of their home fans.

Looking to bounce back after returning home to Australia, the Wallabies lost a thriller against Los Pumas at CommBank Stadium. The Test was decided by a 79th-minute try to backrower Juan Martin Gonzalez.

The Wallabies have started their new era under coach Eddie Jones with an 0-2 record, but they’ll be eager to turn their fortunes around against their fierce rivals on Saturday.

“Obviously we weren’t happy with the results but Eddie being Eddie, I think the intensity was always going to lift leading into the next Test matches but especially the Bledisloe,” Kerevi said.

“It’s not just because of the Bledisloe but as a team we needed to lift the intensity at training and create some great habits leading into these next two games.

“Especially this game in front of our home fans, it’ll be the last opportunity we get (before the World Cup).”

The Wallabies host the All Blacks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday evening in the first of two Bledisloe Cup Test matches.

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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