Kerevi Here To Re­build Fam­ily Home

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In­stead of sit­ting on the couch wait­ing to be­gin re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on an in­jured an­kle, Wal­la­bies cen­tre Samu Kerevi has been sleep­ing on the floor of his fam­ily home in Fiji dur­ing a visit to help re­build his par­ents’ house af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing cy­clone.

Kerevi flew home to Fiji last Saturday to sur­prise his mother, Sai, and fa­ther, Nimi, and his ex­tended fam­ily. The Queens­land Reds rep­re­sen­ta­tive does not tell his mother when he is about to visit be­cause he does not want her to spend any money on him cook­ing up a big cel­e­bra­tory feast. “She was re­ally emo­tional,” Kerevi told Fair­fax Me­dia. “She wasn’t an­gry but wanted to know why I didn’t tell her and then she starts tear­ing up with my grand­mother. They were so happy to see me.” Af­ter a num­ber of hugs and kisses, it was straight into work. Cy­clone Win­ston struck Fiji in Fe­bru­ary, killing 44 peo­ple. It is the worst cy­clone to hit the south Pa­cific is­land.

It was a ter­ri­ble nat­u­ral dis­as­ter for the na­tion, which also de­stroyed the Kerevi fam­ily home. Kerevi, who has fea­tured in eight Tests this year since mak­ing his de­but against Eng­land in Bris­bane, has been send­ing money over from Aus­tralia to help the fam­ily out fi­nan­cially but wanted to do more than just that. “As soon as my cast was off, I wanted to go to Fiji and I just rocked up and helped wher­ever I could,” Kerevi said. “I didn’t want to let any­one know I was there. I just slipped in, slipped out and helped out where I could. “The ma­jor thing was the fi­nan­cial side of things. I pro­vided a pretty large sum of that just to help ren­o­vate the house. We’re ex­tend­ing the liv­ing room, adding an­other mas­ter bed­room and adding in a din­ing area and a kitchen as well. In De­cem­ber, for our fam­ily gath­er­ing for Christ­mas, ev­ery­one wants to be there so I dare say the house will be done by then.”

Kerevi said he could still see first­hand the im­pact the cy­clone had on his vil­lage, which was one of the rea­sons why he felt so good about go­ing back and do­ing his bit.

“(It’s been) al­most a year and there’s still some schools that haven’t been re­built and some homes have been dev­as­tated by it,” Kerevi said. “It’s pretty sad when you go home and see some homes are still in ru­ins.”

Kerevi has quite a large fam­ily. When he vis­ited there was his mother and fa­ther, lit­tle brother Jone, grand­mother and grand­fa­ther, three cousins, and oth­ers. All up, he es­ti­mates there were “14 or 15” peo­ple sleep­ing in a half-built house with just three bed­rooms and a small liv­ing room.

Kerevi is not short of a dol­lar and dur­ing his time as a pro­fes­sional rugby player has stayed at some rather lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels all around the world. But the fact he de­cided to sleep on the floor and give up beds for those who needed them more is a tes­ta­ment to his char­ac­ter and shows how grounded he still is de­spite his rugby suc­cess.

“There wasn’t a lot of space, but we just grab a mat­tress and sleep where we drop, I guess, and fall asleep,” Kerevi said. “It’s still home. I grew up like that. Is­lan­ders have big ex­tended fam­i­lies so we all stay to­gether and it’s not re­ally a bur­den. I was re­ally happy to be around the fam­ily.

“I’m re­ally grate­ful for my abil­i­ties to be able to sup­port the fam­ily in that way. We grew up in re­ally hum­ble be­gin­nings with not a lot of money so for me to be help­ing when­ever I can with the house and gen­eral liv­ing, I feel like I’m giv­ing some­thing back to my par­ents.” Kerevi, who is now back in Aus­tralia, says his re­hab is go­ing well. He hopes to com­plete the bulk of pre-sea­son with the Reds and be­lieves he is on track to be 100 per cent right come Jan­uary.

The 23-year-old year old also said he was thrilled for Te­vita Kuridrani, who has played with dis­tinc­tion at out­side-cen­tre in Aus­tralia’s last two Tests. “I missed the game when he scored the win­ning try (against Scot­land), but I saw the high­lights; I was on a plane while the game was go­ing on,” Kerevi said. “I watched the Wales game )when Kuridrani scored) and I was shout­ing and my old man was telling me to be quiet. “I was so stoked for him and happy for him.”

Samu Kerevi helps re­build his par­ents’ house da­m­aged in Fiji cy­clone. IN­SET: Kerevi with his cousin.

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