Australian rugby’s worst-kept secret has been confirmed, with star Reds and Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi announcing he will depart for Japan after the World Cup.
Despite a late push from Rugby Australia to keep Kerevi in the domestic game, the bid failed, with the Queensland skipper signing a three-year deal with Suntory in Japan.
The 25-year-old won’t be eligible to play for the Wallabies once he leaves Australia, his 25 caps well short of the 60-Test requirement for overseas players to continue playing for the national side.
With Queensland no chance of making the Super Rugby finals, his last game for the Reds will come this weekend against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday. Australian fans will then get to see him in action for the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship before the World Cup campaign gets underway.
It’s understood the Wallabies had put a highly competitive bid in for Kerevi, but he knocked it back on account of keeping his word and being able to provide for his family.
Wallabies director of rugby Scott Johnson said it was a major shame to lose the star, but nothing more could have been done.
“Let’s get it straight, the offer was good,” Johnson said yesterday.
“I’ve seen the offer that Samu was given and it was a very, very good offer that would have put him in the higher echelons of our country.
“To be fair, I’ve tried to resurrect this issue three times but it wasn’t a little number that we offered him.
“I applaud his willingness to support his family but I want him back desperately.”
Kerevi’s final Super Rugby game, at least for now, will be in Canberra against the Brumbies tomorrow night, with the Reds well out of finals contention after a year which has brought just six wins from 15 games.