The Fiji Times
‘This is the world cup’
Kerevi dismisses England’s 6-game winning streak over Wallabies
SAMU Kerevi cited Japan’s upset over Ireland to dismiss the relevance of England’s six-game winning streak over Australia, and rated a tough clash against Georgia as “perfect” preparation for their quarter-final.
Kerevi’s comments came as the Wallabies expressed confidence Kurtley Beale will recover from a head knock suffered against the Georgians in time for the suddendeath first final.
Pending an expected Wales victory over Uruguay on Sunday night in the non-typhoon affected Fukuoka, the old enemies Australia and England will go at it again in the quarter-finals in Oita next Saturday.
It will pit old Randwick teammates Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika against each other again, but so far it’s Jones that’s had all the bragging rights.
Since Cheika’s Wallabies booted England out of their own World Cup at Twickenham in 2015, Jones has coached England to six straight wins over Australia - including a 3-0 series whitewash in 2016.
Asked if there was any potential the Wallabies had mental scars from a four-year run of losses to England, Kerevi shot down the suggestion by saying: “This is the World Cup”.
“You can talk about all the stats and that, but you saw Japan and Ireland,” Kerevi said, pointing to Japan’s upset win over Ireland.
“Anyone can talk about stats at the World Cup but we are just focussed on our process for this week, take our learnings from the Georgia game and go hard this week. I can’t talk too much about the past. That’s why it is in the past. We will just focus on the present.”
Japan had never beaten Ireland, in nine Tests, prior to the shock in Shizuoka, and while Australia aren’t exactly the same sort of underdog in their battle with England, the Wallabies believe form-lines of a regenerative 2016, and end-of-season spring tours thereafter, aren’t relevant to the game.
“That’s the past and we don’t dwell on the past,” Izack Rodda said post-game on Friday night.
“We’re just going to focus on what we can control and do our business.”
Don’t be shocked if the Wallabies spend the week pumping up England’s tyres, however. And nor if Eddie Jones somehow finds a way to hand favouritism back to Australia.
“I love playing England. They’re a great team,” Kerevi said.
“They have been really playing well, not just in this World Cup but in the last couple of years to get to where they are at now. If it is England, we are excited for the challenge ahead.
“They have some awesome players and some awesome firepower and we’re excited to get stuck into the week.”
“We have that had that mentality of knock-out footy from the start. For us I don’t think it is about changing anything. We are sticking to our same processes. But obviously the buzz is just going to go up, and our level has to go up, in terms of preparation and making sure we knock off those details physically and mentally.”
Beale failed a HIA after a nasty on-ground shot to his head by a Georgian defender, but was said to be feeling well at the Wallabies’ Odawara sanctuary. An eight-day turnaround will help in the chances of him recovering and passing his return-to-play protocols, which are overseen by an independent doctor during a World Cup.
“I think he was more disappointed he wasn’t out there with us but he was still in high spirits when I saw him this morning,” Kerevi said.
“He has still got that buzz about him and beautiful smile that we like to see. Obviously he will go through this protocols to return to play. I’m not sure personally where he is at with that. I saw him at recovery and he is feeling good. His disappointment is more that he couldn’t be out there with the boys in the game. He was really buzzing about this week.”
While England have had a weekend off due to their cancelled game, the Wallabies will roll into the quarters match-hardened after a tough clash against Georgia. It’s was an ideal game to tune up, believes Kerevi.
“I thought that game was perfect for us. It was really a forwards dominated game, a lot of set piece,” he said.
“I think there are still areas we can improve and there are a lot of learnings from that game but I thought it was a really good game for us to head into the quarters and whoever we play… right now we are focused on recovery today and tomorrow and then get back into it on Monday.”