Centre rival Samu Kerevi hails Wallaby Kurtley Beale's rugby IQ

Samu Kerevi: "Kurtley is just an exceptional player with an exceptional rugby brain. I know he can bring that X-factor ...
MARK KOLBE/GETTY IMAGES

Samu Kerevi: "Kurtley is just an exceptional player with an exceptional rugby brain. I know he can bring that X-factor to the backline."

Kurtley Beale's rugby brain and X-factor quality have been hailed by fellow Wallaby and potential centre rival Samu Kerevi.

Reds' star and leader Kerevi started in all of his first eight test appearances last year, but didn't play alongside Beale who missed the Wallabies 2016 campaign through injury.

Kerevi's first two tests were against England at inside centre, but he occupied the more familiar No 13 jersey for six more matches against Rugby Championship foes New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.

Kurtley Beale barks instructions during a Wallabies training session at Cessnock Sportsground in Newcastle.
MARK KOLBE/GETTY IMAGES

Kurtley Beale barks instructions during a Wallabies training session at Cessnock Sportsground in Newcastle.

Injuries put him out of last year's spring tour and the recent June Tests with the Brumbies' Tevita Kuridrani re-establishing himself as the first-choice outside centre, after he spent the second half of 2016 on the bench behind Kerevi.

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Back from ankle and pectoral injuries at the tailend of the Super Rugby season, Kerevi is vying for a starting centre position or a bench spot in the squad for the opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship game against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 19.

Beale is tipped to replace the injured Karmichael Hunt at inside centre for that game.

Kerevi has enjoyed the chance to watch Beale at close quarters in this week's Wallabies camp in Cessnock, where coach Michael Cheika has tried different centre combinations.

"Kurtley is just an exceptional player with an exceptional rugby brain," Kerevi said.

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"I know he can bring that X-factor to the backline and the you've got players like Israel Folau at the back and give it to Kuridrani and Henry Speight out wide that can finish off amazing tries.

"Every aspect of training has been really exciting me and seeing the combinations grow."

Another centre catching Kerevi's eye is former NRL star Curtis Rona, who is striving to win a first Test cap.

"Rona has been training really well for us, he's got more speed than a lot of people think," he said.

Kerevi has gradually upped the ante at training after recovering from a pectoral injury.

"I'm back in full-time training just slowly getting back into the contact stuff with my pec, but it's feeling really good," Kerevi said.

 - AAP

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