Returning Wallaby Samu Kerevi believes Australia’s rugby sevens squad has been unfairly tarnished for “celebrating” their Olympic Games campaign on a flight home from Tokyo.
Kerevi, a shock recall to the Wallabies squad for Saturday week’s Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand in Perth, was part of Australia’s sevens outfit that finished seventh in Tokyo.
Following their campaign, the team’s behaviour in the Olympic village and on their flight home was investigated, with claims that “excessive amounts of alcohol” were consumed.
As a result, Rugby Australia reprimanded the entire squad, with “certain team members” forced to undergo education and counselling sessions regarding behaviour and alcohol consumption.
It’s a punishment and a stain on the team’s character that doesn’t sit well with Kerevi.
“It was really tough in the first couple of days quarantine for a lot of the news to come out, that wasn’t necessarily true,” Kerevi said.
“The boys are willing to take the blame and cop that they did have a couple of beers on the on the plane.
“It wasn’t just our group … but boys really did work hard to be in the situation, and to be at the Olympics, and celebrated together. Obviously we still have standards that we have to fall by … but I think the most important thing was the people that matter to us knew exactly how the group carried themselves and how the behaviour was on the plane.
“Everyone else can make judgments and say what they want to say, but it’s just important that the most important people in our group, and the most important people in our lives knew the truth.”
Samu Kerevi charges through the South Korean defence during Australia’s rugby sevens Tokyo Olympics campaign. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Following his period in quarantine, Kerevi flew to Perth to link with the Wallabies after a selection he “didn’t see” coming.
The former Queensland Reds skipper thought his Wallabies career was over after joining Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.
But the “Giteau Law” – which allows only players who have made at least 60 Wallabies appearances to eligible for national selection if they play their club rugby overseas – has been relaxed to allow Kerevi to again be selected for Australia despite having played just 29 Tests.
Despite calls for further relaxation or even the axing of the “Giteau Law” to allow more overseas-based Australians to play for the Wallabies regardless of how many Tests they have played before their departures to foreign clubs, Kerevi is torn over the matter even though it would further aid his selection chances.
“Everyone plying their trade overseas, they always want to put on that gold jersey. They always put their hand up to have the opportunity to do so,” Kerevi said.
“I guess it (further relaxing the ‘Giteau Law’ ) would work in my favour, but in saying that, I think you’ve got to give the guys that are here at home are the opportunity to put on that (Wallabies) jersey.
“They work really hard to play in that Super Rugby AU competition and ply their trade here.
“There’s a lot of layers to it, again with Covid and for these quarantines, but that’s up to the guys up top. I’m just trying to play some good footy.”
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