Kerevi gets nod to lead Reds in Global Tens
RUGBY UNION: Brad Thorn's Reds have been trying to fly so far under the radar for weeks that Samu Kerevi was stuck with answering on every Queensland rugby issue.
In quick succession, Kerevi was asked what he thought of Karmichael Hunt's court date, George Smith's arrest in Japan and Thorn jettisoning Quade Cooper.
Phew. It was like facing a rapid over of bouncers from a fast bowler with fans uncertain whether Steve Smith or a fourth-grade batsman would be under the helmet.
Kerevi did an admirable job.
He always steered the topic back to the genuinely strong pre-season of hard work under new coach Thorn and excitement for the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens at Suncorp Stadium.
On Hunt: "That situation is going along with the courts."
On Smith: "It's been a tough situation for him."
On Cooper: "Obviously tough for Quadie but he's still an amazing human being and whatever (level) he plays he will with a beautiful football mind."
The summation that it equalled an ordinary lead-up to any Super Rugby season was swatted away by Kerevi, who will captain the Reds at the Global Tens on February 9-10.
"You can say that but I don't think so because I've seen leaders and young guys without Test experience stepping up in the pre-season," Kerevi said.
Kerevi was a fan of Thorn as an assistant coach last year but has seen a next-level intensity since rejoining Reds training after a post-Wallabies tour break.
"I've been really surprised since coming back in and the foundation he has set with the culture of the team has been amazing," Kerevi said.
"It's head down, work hard and no excuses."
For the Tens, it will be fast, physical and a chance for some exciting new faces to push for Super Rugby time.
Fijian flyer Filipo Daugunu, young flanker Liam Wright, pocket-sized halfback Tate McDermott, young giant Harry Hockings and former Brumby Nick Jooste are all part of the 26-man squad.
"We've got three pre-season fixtures and we felt it important to give everyone an opportunity to showcase their skills as a good reward for hard work," Thorn said.
Backrower Scott Higginbotham, the hot favourite to be Queensland's Super Rugby skipper after nursing a neck nerve issue back to health, will bypass the Tens.
The Reds are drawn in Pool A, alongside the Melbourne Rebels, the Auckland-based Blues and Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights for the festive day-night tournament.
Reds squad for Tens: James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Sef Fa'agase, JP Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Harry Hockings, Kane Douglas, Angus Scott-Young, Michael Gunn, Liam Wright, Tai Ford, Reece Hewat, James Tuttle, Moses Sorovi, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart, Nick Jooste, Teti Tela, Tony Hunt, Samu Kerevi (C), Filipo Daugunu, Jayden Ngamanu, Izaia Perese, Lachlan Maranta