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Reds cook Brumbies in the Cauldron and show why Samu Kerevi must be kept in Australia

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Roar Pro
26th March, 2019
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Attending the Reds versus Brumbies game at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon in 33-degree heat was a good chance for Queensland Reds fans in the Western stand to get to know one another up close and personal, with 13,500 cramming into the shady side of the stadium.

A few brave (crazy?) souls kept their seats in the sun-baked Eastern stands, perhaps in sympathy for the players who had to throw together a game of rugby in centre.

Indeed, though the players did it tough and after an initial 27 phase attacking effort by the Brumbies, magnificently repelled by the Reds, clearly paced themselves for the first half.

There was a lot of tactical kicking, lots of water and taking time to get to lineouts, scrums and goal kick attempts.

There was nothing wrong with that as it gave the match a nice cricket match feel to it and certainly meant you had to be less worried about missing something if you snuck out for another beer.

When the Reds took their chance they made it count though, with Scott Higginbotham showing his intent with a powerful close-range try, spinning out of the grip of several Brumbies defenders to get the ball over the line for the first try.

The breakout had to wait until the second half though, with the Reds ruthlessly capitalising on Brumbies mistakes for a total five-try haul to which the Brumbies could only respond with two tries coming off a Reds turnover and a poor pass close to their own line.

The Brumbies were frankly outmuscled and outrun in the heat, in particular, they seemed to be missing giant blindside flanker Rob Valetini, who was out with injury, for his ability to break the line.

Christian Lealiifano

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Open side David Pocock was out with injury too, though generating breakdown penalties and turnovers was a Brumbies strength but they also lost monster lock Rory Arnold to injury early in the game.

But in totality, these injuries wouldn’t have accounted for the eventual 22 point deficit to the Reds, whose fitness and desire shone through.

When it comes to fitness and desire, the Reds player that really stood out though was captain Samu Kerevi.

Aside from the fact that Kerevi has steadily required the skills that are turning him into Australia’s universal warrior a la Ma’aa Nonu – it is his attitude and commitment that have made him such an asset to the Reds and Wallabies.

This was none more evident than on Sunday’s game, when he shifted his 108kg at pace and often in traffic, for 15 runs and 77 metres, topping the attacking charts.

He also assisted a try and was integral in another. All in all, it was a good effort for a 12 during a normal evening match of rugby in 33-degree heat.

This raises the question to Rugby Australia, who are in contract negotiations with Kerevi. Is this a player that Australian rugby can really afford to lose?

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Rugby Australia have managed to get deals of over a million for David Pocock and Michael Hooper, both true rugby professionals, of over a million dollars a season, while Israel Folau is reportedly on $2 million.

Surely Kerevi’s unique physical build and skill set, his professionalism, his leadership ability and the “leave nothing in the tank” attitude that he demonstrated on Sunday, justify the same sort of remuneration?

Especially since he is only 25 years old and has the best years of his rugby playing life ahead of him.

Yet the only reports that we have seen about Kerevi is that he is likely to go to Japan after the World Cup because Rugby Australia is baulking at matching offers in the order of $1 million that he is getting from Japanese clubs.

Perhaps Rugby Australia needs to think hard on the significant number of young Queensland developed players who have won Wallabies caps in recent years.

How many more young Queenslanders could be inspired to become elite rugby players, by a successful Reds team led by a genuine talisman like Kerevi?

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His value goes well beyond what he can do on the field and Rugby Australia should be bending over backwards, like it has with several players from south of the Tweed, to keep him in Australia post-2019.

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