VIDEO: Wallaby's bizarre threat after loss to Wales
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Hard-hitting Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi has threatened to switch to Rugby league after being penalised for a stray elbow in Australia’s 25-29 World Cup defeat by Wales.
Wales were awarded a penalty after Kerevi caught flyhalf Rhys Patchell with a forearm under the chin as he drove forward during the first half of Sunday’s blockbuster Group D clash in Tokyo.
The decision proved pivotal as it halted Australia’s momentum and led to Wales reeling off 10 unanswered points – it also left Wallabies coach Michael Cheika seething and prompted Kerevi to float the idea of switching codes.
“I’ve been playing like that for my whole career,” he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard that I can’t lead with my arms and bump. I love my Rugby League — the way rugby is going, I might as well join the NRL next, seeing how they police it.”
Kerevi, who has signed a three-year deal to play with Suntory in Japan’s Top League from next season, likened the World Cup to basketball, told reporters: “I guess I just have to change my technique and the way I run.”
He added: “It’s hard when you slow it down to one-tenth of a second. It looks like I’m going for his neck, but there’s no malice in it.
“With the force I’m coming at, and if he’s going backwards and I can’t move forward, I might as well just stop.”
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Cheika was furious about the French referee Romain Poite’s call and accused rugby’s administrators of “spooking” match officials with their crackdown on high tackles.
“I just don’t know the rules anymore honestly,” he growled. “As a rugby player, a former player, I’m embarrassed.”
Patchell tried to wrap up the marauding Kerevi, pulling him backwards to absorb the blow, but the television match (TMO) officials deemed his elbow had been dangerously high.
Aussie skipper Michael Hooper screamed at Poite, calling Patchell’s tackle “terrible technique”, and the debate raged on after the match.
“Look, it’s a hard decision for the referees,” admitted Kerevi. “I obviously understand that. I guess I’ve got to change the way I run.”
Cheika conducted his on-pitch interview with his shirt open, every answer curt and dripping with sarcasm with what one Twitter wag described as “divorced dad at wedding energy”.
At his post-match press conference, he tore into World Cup organisers again, his sense of injustice over wing Reece Hodge’s three-match ban for a high tackle against Fiji accentuated by the news that England’s Piers Francis had escaped suspension for a high shot.
“I heard the English got off and I thought ‘wow!’ – the referees are spooked,” fumed Cheika.
“It affects everything else on the field, decisions on all sorts of crazy stuff.”
He also noted how the TMO was holding up the game for frequent checks.
“It’s not inviting to the fans,” he shrugged. “Crowds are booing – and they aren’t booing the players either. It shouldn’t be happening.”