Super Rugby


2/26/2016

‘Bash brothers’ named to start in Reds midfield


One is a Fijian leader in an inexperienced backline and the other a Samoan bolter set to make his debut for the St.George Queensland Reds in Saturday night’s interstate Super Rugby showdown.

Within the team, backline general Samu Kerevi and centre partner Henry Taefu are playfully named the “bash brothers” and both are confident the team can restore faith in the rebuilding Reds.

Tipping the scales at a collective 208kg, Fijian-born Kerevi and Samoan product Taefu outweigh their Waratahs counterparts Dave Horwitz and Rob Horne by a combined 21kg and have been slugged with the bash brothers tag by assistant coach Nick Stiles.

The nickname doesn’t quite fit their softly-spoken, gentlemanly personalities but there is little doubt what kind of mayhem they could wreak with a decent share of front-foot ball.

While preferring to praise rather than prize apart the Waratahs’ new-look centre combination, Kerevi does see opportunities for the Reds midfield.

“Henry and I have played with each other a lot in the NRC and it’s exciting to think what he’s capable of,” he said.

“We don’t like to talk too much about the other team but I’ve got personal goals and a lot of that is about dominating opposition players.

“They’re a new combination and they’ll want to do a good job.

“I played with Dave (Horwitz) in the national under-20s (in 2013), and he’s a good bloke and a good player.

“I don’t expect that just because he’s on debut he’ll shy away from anything.”

Taefu is one of two Super Rugby debutants – Eto Nabuli is the other – named in the run-on side to face the 2014 champions.

Another two, Ben Matwijow and Ayumu Goromaru, have been chosen on the bench while lock Cadeyrn Neville will play his first Super Rugby game in a Reds jersey.

Saia Fainga’a returns to the starting XV after Andrew Ready was handed the hooking role in the two pre-season matches.

Kerevi, who formed a fearsome partnership with Taefu for NRC outfit Brisbane City last season, is aware external expectations for this team are not what they have been in the past.

And that’s just fine, for the 22-year-old has a point to prove and it is not to those who rate the Reds as outsiders.

“They don’t know us and what we can put on the table,” said Kerevi who, with 18 provincial caps, is the third-most experienced Queensland back – behind Nick Frisby (40) and Chris Feauai-Sautia (38) on Saturday.

“In a lot of games we’ll be perceived as underdogs but I can see the hunger in the group. It’s about us putting our best foot forward and proving it to ourselves, not the doubters.”

Kerevi said new attack coach Matt O’Connor trusts the developing side to run the ball, rather than retreat into its shell for fear of making errors.

“It would be easy to be conservative and defensive. But with the coaches who’ve come in we want to get around the field and be skilful,” he said.

The pre-game anxiety of Kerevi, and teammates Eto Nabuli and Chris Kuridrani has eased after all three learned their Fijian families had escaped harm from Cyclone Winston.

He plans to return to the Pacific island at the next spare weekend and has been encouraged by the Fijians’ optimism.

“The house copped it but I’m happy the family’s OK,” he said.

“You can rebuild a house but people are irreplaceable. I’ve been on the phone with them a lot and trying to make them laugh.

“They’re positive people in Fiji and don’t take a lot of things to heart. They try to keep a sense of humour and mum’s assured me I’m still her favourite.

“It’s all in God’s plan and we’ll bounce back.”