VIDEO: Australian Rugby on religious time bomb
WATCH as Reds captain Samu Kerevi clears up where he stands on religion and why he will continue to express his faith.
Kerevi, speaking to the media ahead of the Reds’ Round 12 encounter with the Sunwolves on Friday, defended his right to express their Christian faith in public.
The latest development comes just days ahead of Israel Folau’s code of conduct hearing, with growing fears of a rift between some Pacific Islander players and Rugby Australia.
The situation took a bizarre twist this week with a flurry of social media activity from Kerevi and Test prop Taniela Tupou, in which both felt it necessary to defend their right to express their faith.
Tupou leapt to the defence of his captain with an explosive Facebook post, after some people assumed Kerevi had apologised for religious comments he made after the Reds’ Good Friday win over the Sharks in Durban.
Kerevi has subsequently made it clear he did not apologise and on Thursday reiterated he will continue to express his faith in public.
Kerevi said the unwanted attention, and constant baiting by hecklers on social media, hasn’t distracted him from the Reds’ big opportunity.
“A lot is going on,” Kerevi told a media gathering in Brisbane.
“A lot of things what is going on, hasn’t been about footy [rugby] or the positivity that it brings.”
He said he was in a good place mentally.
“I think people know where I stand with my faith.
“I just want to play good footy. I’m trying to focus on how I can lead this team well. I am really happy with how the vibe is [in the team].”
He also expressed his support for Tupou, who challenged Rugby Australia to fire him for defending his right to express his Christian faith.
“Niela [Tupou] is all good,” Kerevi said, adding: “Me and him are all good. People are just taking what he said the wrong way.
“He is an emotional fella, he was just having my back. I love that about him. He is a great team man.”
He said he would not like any of his teammates getting sacked over their religious beliefs.
As for the social media baiters, Kerevi said he would rather focus on his game.
“I understand why people are trying to do that. [However,] rugby is what I do, it is not who I am.
“If you want to have that [religious] conversation, people can come up to me personally, talk to me about my faith and believes and I will stand by [it] every day of the week.”
He said he will continue to express his faith, after he was named man of the match in the win over the Sharks on Good Friday.
“It was through the grace of God that I was able to perform like that and help the team perform the way they did,” he said of the win in Durban.
“That is where my power, my grace and my love comes from. It is just about giving back the honour to God. If people took it the wrong way, I didn’t mean it – it was all out of love and gratitude.
“I will do it this weekend and I will do it every weekend.”
* Meanwhile the Rugby Australia confirmed the details of Folau’s hearing on Saturday.