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Why Wallabies star Samu Kerevi thinks All Blacks duo are ‘up there with the best’

By Finn Morton
Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks runs through drills with Jordie Barrett and Beauden Barrett during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

With just two months to go until the upcoming Rugby World Cup, there was plenty of intrigue and anticipation surrounding the All Blacks as they prepared for their first Test of 2023.

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Playing against a confident Los Pumas outfit at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas earlier this month, the All Blacks opened their Rugby Championship account with a convincing 41-12 win in Mendoza.

After a successful end-of-season tour the year before, which included some promising performances, the comfortable victory sent a message to the All Blacks’ international rugby rivals.

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They’re back – and the rugby world certainly knows it.

During that big win, and the demolition of rivals South Africa the week after, “world-class” No. 12 Jordie Barrett impressed alongside midfield partner Rieko Ioane.

But the duo face a tough challenge this weekend.

While there’s been no confirmation of the team lineups as of yet – that’ll happen on Thursday – Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi appears all but certain to start in the No.12 jersey.

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Kerevi, back in 2019, was considered one of the best players in Test rugby. Every time the rampaging centre touched the ball, the rugby world watched in silence – lost in a sense of anticipation and awe.

Or, to put it another way, Kerevi was world-class – and in the eyes of many, the Wallaby still is.

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In the leadup to the opening Bledisloe Cup Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Kerevi told reporters that the Barrett-Ioane combination was “up there with the best.”

“Their combination is working really well for them. It’s only been a couple of Tests now but they’re definitely up there with the best combinations that I’ve played against,” Kerevi said on Tuesday.

“I obviously haven’t gone up against them the last couple of years but Rieko’s made that big shift to 13 as well. He’s got some pace on him and great skills as well.

“I’m looking forward to the matchup, again, if I get to play this weekend but I’m excited for it.”

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For both the All Blacks and Jordie Barrett, a lot has changed in a year. 12 months ago, New Zealand were coming off tough defeats to Ireland, South Africa and Argentina.

As for Barrett, the utility was widely considered the nation’s best option at fullback. But after an injury to Quinn Tupaea in Melbourne, Barret was thrown into the midfield.

Jordie, who is the younger brother of Beauden and Scott, impressed at inside centre against the Wallabies in Auckland, and hasn’t looked back since.

“He’s a world-class player and I think he’s transitioned really well. I think he can play the whole backline,” Kerevi added.

“He’s been playing all over the shop for the Hurricanes and obviously the All Blacks. He’s a big body, he’s got great skills as well so I guess he brings that dynamic in the 12 position.

“He’s kind of like his brother and I’ve played with Beaudy a lot… he’s been great so far and looking for that matchup if the selection goes right.”

As for Kerevi, the Olympian could potentially face the All Blacks for the first time in almost 700 days this weekend.

Following a disastrous injury stint on the sidelines, Kerevi is back in the fold. After the injury to regular No. 13 Len Ikitau against Argentina, the Wallabies need Kerevi to step up.

“I want to peak at the right time.

“Obviously after a long layoff, just finding that groove again and that rhythm for myself, finding where I fit in terms of the team and where I can be my best.

“Still building to where I want to be. I want to be a world-class player and a world-class centre so there’s always going to be room for improvement.

“The ceiling is always going to get pushed, not just for myself but for other players around the squad.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday night in the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests this year.

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4 Comments
R
Reyz 358 days ago

What's scary about this combination & the Abs in general is they are nowhere near peaking yet

I
Isikeli 358 days ago

Jones is right this AB team has not been tested yet, so apply pressure all around the key areas see if they starter, especially when they are behind, they panic. 😰👀

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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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