Wallabies to play Special K against Wales
THE power running impact of 104kg Samu Kerevi is now expected to earn him another chance at inside centre for the Wallabies in a key selection call for the Test against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday morning (AEDT).
When the Wallabies started training under grey skies in the Welsh capital today, it was Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani as the centres in the yellow-and-white "starters" jerseys that gave the best hint of coach Michael Cheika's likely team formation.
Cheika has changed course on gut instinct before but Kerevi's form in Yokohama last weekend when he bullocked through and over the poor Japanese is the sort of irresistible audition that the coach likes to take heed of.
The major knock-on effects if that selection sticks would mean Kurtley Beale staying at fullback and utility Karmichael Hunt being squeezed out now he is back training after a twinged neck kept him out of the Japan Test.
A healthy Bernard Foley has run at five-eighth all week while halfback Will Genia started the afternoon team run on the sidelines but only because he'd passed a morning fitness on the calf strain that ruled him out in Japan.
It only made sense to not push the workload on Genia's legs on a heavy field after some drizzling rain.
For Kuridrani, the idea of pairing with good mate Kerevi again got a big tick and not just because they have known each other since attending the same church in Brisbane during their childhood days.
The pair scored five tries against the Japanese, including Kuridrani's hat-trick try when Kerevi made the lovely offload that put him away.
"Yeah, I really liked playing with Samu," Kuridrani said.
"I've seen how he has developed into an international player and hopefully we can get more games together and get the combination (going)."
Kerevi's joy was obvious in his play in Yokohama and his senior centre partner showed it too with his now trademark chain-pulling arm action after the hat-trick try.
"The K-Train ... the boys call me that and I do that (celebration) whenever I score a try," Kuridrani said with a grin.
Kuridrani has played 55 Tests and the extra confidence to this once shy Fijian now extends to working side-by-side with Kerevi to improve their connection in defence.
"It's just defensively we've been working really hard, just me making sure that he's all right," Kuridrani said.
"For Samu, he's very dangerous in attack and we're trying to work on that as well."
Welsh defensive coach Shaun Edwards lauded the Wallabies as having "the most potent attacking force in the first three phases in world rugby" ahead of even the All Blacks.
The canny Edwards is always happy to drown opponents in compliments but the Wallabies try-scoring this year does deserve rich praise when it has ticked to 51 in 11 Tests.
Nearly half have been ignited off lineouts which is really the Edwards' point that the Wallabies are run good set plays off a reliable set piece which the Welsh clearly have plans to disrupt.
With the 110kg figure of defensive rock Jamie Roberts missing from the Welsh midfield and two playmakers likely to be employed, Kuridrani did not disguise the idea that there would be big bodies running down that channel.
"That's the game plan we'll try and work on. We'll try and target, the No. 10 and 12 channel ... but we'll target the wide channels as well. We want to target all over," Kuridrani said as his specific game plan got more general by the syllable.
Kuridrani will have his hands full marking Welsh outside centre Jonathan Davies, one of the standouts from this year's British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
"One big challenge this weekend is playing against Davies. I haven't played against him since I started played against Wales and he's a very world-class player," Kuridrani said.