Kerevi sees off Hunt for Wallabies spot

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has rewarded Samu Kerevi for his strong showing against Japan by retaining him in the side to face Wales on Saturday in Cardiff.

 

The Queensland Reds centre scored two of Australia's nine tries against Japan and formed a strong partnership with Tevita Kuridrani, who crossed for a hat-trick in Yokohama.

Cheika was expected to name Karmichael Hunt after his recovery from the neck injury that ruled him out of the Japan match, but said Kerevi deserved to be rewarded for his efforts.

"I thought he played really good on the weekend to be honest," Cheika said.

"If Karmichael didn't get injured that week he probably would have started that game.

"But he got an opportunity and he deserves another game.

"He is a very good player Samu. He hasn't had it all his own way this year and I'm eager to see him fight back and try and get a spot in the team."

Kerevi keeps his spot. Image: Getty

Halfback Will Genia has been passed fit to play following a calf injury that ruled him out last week with five-eighth Bernard Foley recovered from illness.

Reece Hodge, who ably deputised for Foley against the Cherry Blossoms, moves back to the wing with Kurtley Beale named at fullback.

Cheika has selected an unchanged forward pack with winger Henry Speight dropping to the bench along with halfback Nick Phipps.

Hunt is also among the reserves.

Cheika said the decision to keep Beale at fullback was not a long-term audition for the role, but a demonstration of the great versatility of his backs.

"We know a bit what all those guys can do in the different positions and we've got good options and that's one really good thing about us," he said.

"Karmichael can set up at fullback or centre. Samu can play 12 or 13.

"Hodge can pretty much play anywhere, Beale can play 12, 15 or 10 if we need him.

"He'll still play in that playmaker's role predominantly, a whole lot won't change for him."

"They'll be changes in how we set up for set pieces but in attack he'll play the same role."

Cheika said the return of Foley and Genia was a huge boost for a side limited in experience of Northern Hemisphere rugby.

"If you look at our team, we haven't got a lot of experience in the northern hemisphere," he said.

"Even guys like (Adam) Coleman doesn't have a lot of experience. He played here (in Cardiff) last year, but then got injured."

Cheika confirmed Foley will retain goalkicking duties despite Hodge booting nine conversions last week.

"We might have Hodge kicking the line kicks, we'll see how that unfolds," he said.

"But Foley will be kicking goals."

AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Res: Stephen Moore, Tom Robertson, Allan Alaalatoa, Matt Philip, Ben McCalman, Nick Phipps, Karmichael Hunt, Henry Speight.

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