Kerevi Here To Rebuild Family Home
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.