‘I just wanted to do my job, run over people’
SAMU Kerevi has his mojo back and the tackle-trampling centre feels ready to reassert himself as a Wallabies starter now he has shed 3kg for a fitter frame.
How coach Michael Cheika is weighing up Kerevi among his multiple centre options for the Test against Wales in Cardiff is full of intrigue after the powerful Fijian's imposing game at inside centre against Japan last Saturday.
With two tries in Yokohama, he was back to top form and the match fitness to keep powering on for 16 gallops to tenderise the smaller, outmuscled Japanese backline defence.
More than that, it purged the last time he started a Test, the dire defensive play in Sydney in August when he just wasn't match-sharp enough to react during the All Blacks' 40-6 first half rampage.
Being demoted to the bench for five Tests can work wonders and the glee with which the diving Kerevi planted the ball one-handed for his second try in Yokohama said it all about the spark being back.
"I just wanted to do my job ... run over people," Kerevi said matter-of-factly.
Such focus will be music to Cheika's ears as he weighs up Kurtley Beale, Karmichael Hunt or the 104kg Kerevi, for a supersized tandem act, as the centre partner for Tevita Kuridrani at Millennium Stadium early on Sunday morning (EDT).
"Obviously, everyone is going for a starting spot. Whether it's me, Tevita, Karmichael, Billy (Meakes) or (Curtis) Rona in the centres, all of us are pushing and the competition is a positive thing," Kerevi said.
The Test was one of his first 80-minute displays at any level since his ankle injury five months ago which pleased Cheika who said: "He's a frontline player for us and we needed him to get out and play more."
It doesn't matter that the Welsh will be bigger bodies now he's listening to teammate Will Genia's simple advice: "Back yourself and just enjoy your footy."
"I think I was putting too much pressure on myself so I more went out to enjoy it against Japan," Kerevi said.
"I've dropped 3kg and feel a lot stronger than I was a couple of months back.
"I know my strengths are to ball carry. It doesn't matter who is in front...we'll find a hole, we'll find a way."
Playing Kerevi and Kuridrani together didn't work against England in two Tests last year with Bernard Foley as the single playmaker, but having Foley and Beale both creating chances for them broadens the appeal of going the supersized route if needed.
Foley lost 3kg with the fever and gastro bug that ruled him out in Japan but believes he will be fit to train and play in Cardiff.
The fast 14-0 start in Yokohama in the opening 10 minutes was the sharp attitude the team needs to repeat against Wales.
Working on goal line defence is one area skipper Michael Hooper wants improved.