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One of the first differences Samu Kerevi noticed between his affiliation with the Wallabies and the Australia 7s team came on day one when he boarded the team bus with his new 7s teammates.
“When you get into a Wallabies squad there’s like 500 people here, there’s two buses,” Kerevi said Tuesday after being called up to the Aussie 7s team for the Commonwealth Games later that month.
“At 7s, the first bus ride, I sat and waited for everyone else, and [then the bus left]. That was the squad. You get very close to the guys, you get to know them really well.”
Kerevi is a humble servant to three champions – the Wallabies, his Japanese club team, Suntory Sungoliath, and the Australian Team 7s, which he joined ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The first two gigs get him $1.2 million a season up north — which means he’s making about 10 times that of someone else who was on that bus.
The big pay package and the fame of the 15’s means Kerevi is a marquee and marked man in the 7’s arena and he couldn’t ignore it.
“It’s always on my mind,” he said. “Especially when I made the squad last year. I just want to come in and make sure they know I’m there to push for a seat. And I’m here to work hard.
“That was the biggest part of me coming in, just to make sure I put my head down, listen, have a glass half full.
“I’m not the best player in the world, I don’t want to come in and think I know everything. I’m always willing to learn and listen to the guys in the 7s program and the coaching staff and improve.”
Kerevi isn’t playing sevens for the money or even a chance at a gold medal later this month. Think about personal development.
He says he enjoys it because “it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for a big guy like me to be five, seven meters next to me and have to chase a guy who has great feet and great speed.
“Part of it is that I’m stepping into an uncomfortable zone that I want to get out of.”
There’s an aspect of paying back his selection for Birmingham – at a time when he could be recovering after the Test series against England to prepare for likely Rugby Championship appearances.
The 7s program gave him try after try when he was out of the Wallabies setup and offered a way back into Dave Rennie’s calculations.
“Sevens hold a special place in my heart,” Kerevi said. “I was long gone and it was important to me to come back to Australia and put on the gold jersey and I wasn’t in my 15s at the time.
“They gave me this opportunity and welcomed me with open arms. That was the bond we formed after the Olympics last year. I gave them my word that if I were available I would definitely come back and try Com Games and here we are.”
The crew members have welcomed him back on the bus and he wants to “make a positive impact on the guys and give back a bit of knowledge I learned from the game”.
And he downplays personal motivation to come home with a medal later this month.
“I want more than just myself to get a medal for the program,” he said. “I understand how the program has held up over the past few years.
“Of course it would be special. Not many guys in 15s can step up to 7s and try to win an Olympic gold medal or Commonwealth gold medal.
“The program deserves a medal. The coaching staff and everyone involved at 7s work very hard every year to get the program up and running. We want to win for that.”
Kerevi thinks his 7’s experience helped him into his 15’s as well, where he has risen from No. 13 to No. 12 and is ranked by many judges as the best indoor center in the world.
In addition to his fitness, he benefited from “the skills of the game, my passing, my pursuit and my defense.
“I had a guy like Maurice Longbottom, I would try to follow him at training sessions. For the first few weeks I would just gasp. Slowly and slowly I got better in that area.”
It is this thirst for improvement and learning that will lead him to the Com Games and to the top of the game in 15 seconds. That and a refusal to accept that he has already arrived.
“Personally, I don’t think I’m in the top 12 at the moment. There is so much more I need to grow in my game,” Kerevi said.
“At 12 I get the ball a little faster. I’m close to the action, especially when we’re going backwards or something, and I take pride in going forward. I’m proud of this physical part of the game.
“For me, that transition to 12 was getting more touches on the ball. It’s a lot easier on defense. lenny [Ikitau’s] a great defender at 13, guys like Hunter [Paisami] Who can bet on big shots and perese so I’m more comfortable now at 12.
“The transition to 12 helps me communicate with Lenny. I know what the 13 needs to play there. It’s definitely still a part of my game that I want to develop in terms of passing and kicking. With a bigger body than 12 I think it’s just closer to the action.”
https://www.theroar.com.au/2022/07/05/always-on-my-mind-samu-kerevi-earns-10-times-more-than-his-7s-teammates-but-the-gifts-theyve-given-him-are-priceless/ Wallabies Samu Kerevi called up to Australia 7's squad for Commonwealth Games