Rugby Championship: Wallabies weighing up options to replace Samu Kerevi

With star inside centre Samu Kerevi ruled out with a knee injury, Australia are now weighing up their options about who will replace him.

Although Kerevi was always going to miss the Wallabies’ first two Rugby Championship matches against Argentina, due to his commitments with Australia’s Sevens team, things went pear-shaped when he sustained a serious knee injury in a pool match against Kenya at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Set for surgery

He is set to consult a specialist in Brisbane on how to treat the injury but it looks like an operation will be needed to fix the problem.

Kerevi‘s absence is a major setback for the Wallabies ahead of the Rugby Championship campaign and he would have been a key figure for Dave Rennie‘s side in their bid to win back the Bledisloe Cup – a trophy which they last won in 2002.

The 28-year-old was one of Australia’s best players in their recent lost series to England and his return for the Tests against the Springboks would have been a shot in the arm for the Wallabies.

“I’m obviously very disappointed for Samu, I had a chat with him just before and now it’s about him getting his body right,” fellow centre Len Ikitau told AAP from Buenos Aires.

“I know the type of person he is, and he’s going to bounce back and be right for next year.

“It was awesome to play with Samu. He’s direct and for me, it’s playing off the kind of go-forward ball that he produces.

“For us, though, it’s a next man up mentality, coming in and doing the job.”

Rennie has some options to slot in at inside centre with one possibility being that Hunter Paisami wears the number 12 jersey with Ikitau starting at outside centre.

That duo was the Wallabies’ centre combination during their end-of-year tour to the UK when Kerevi was ruled out due to his club commitments in Japan.

Rennie also has the option of starting Lalakai Foketi at either inside or outside centre.

Although Foketi has only played one Test – as a replacement against Wales last year – he shone for Australia A during last month’s Pacific Nations Cup campaign.

Paisami favourite to start at 12

Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete was asked by reporters about Paisami and said he feels the 24-year-old could do a good job as the starting inside centre.

“He’s kind of a different player from Samu, he’s got his own game, his own super power,” said Koroibete. “He’s got ball skills, and he’s an extra playmaker for us.

“He brings energy and he loves to hit and I reckon if Hunter got picked this week he’s going to do a very good job.”

READ MORE: Samu Kerevi: Wallabies’ star centre ruled out of Rugby Championship due to injury