Muray Wenzel / AAP News
One of world rugby’s most damaging ball runners, Samu Kerevi could be reduced to a Commonwealth Games decoy.
In a sign of the surging confidence in Australia’s men’s sevens program under John Manenti, there are no plans to lean heavily on their high-profile Wallabies recruit when the action begins in Coventry, a short drive from host city Birmingham, on Friday.
Instead he and fringe Wallabies addition Mark Nawaqanitawase – a lightning-fast, high-flying Super Rugby winger – have been asked to fit into a side that is on the brink of a historic maiden World Series crown.
“We can be smart about it,” Manenti told AAP of his tactical use of the Wallabies centre.
“He’ll attract a lot of attention, so you can get a lot out of him even using him as a decoy.
“We have lots of shots, we have a strong offence and they have to move into our stuff and when the time’s right we’ll unleash our new toys.”
Kerevi has chosen to play in the Commonwealth Games ahead of the Wallabies’ two-Test series in Argentina in a massive nod to a program that had its budget slashed and core contract list halved to just six after a miserable Tokyo Olympics.
Since then the side, combining sevens regulars Maurice Longbottom and Nick Malouf with club rugby upstarts like Corey Toole and Matt Gonzalez, has medalled in five of the eight World Series legs.
They sit second, just two points behind leaders South Africa, with one leg to play.
“Samu played a Test a week ago but he’s here saying ‘let me at them,” Manenti said.
“It’s that mix that will carry us … the hunger from the club guys like (Eastwood 27-year-old) Matty Gonzalez, ‘the Street Fighter, telling Samu what to do on a sevens field.
“It’s really cool.”
Two-time Olympian Malouf missed his home state’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games while he toiled in the English Premiership for Leicester.
“It’s huge for me to play in a Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“These multi-sport events are fantastic for us.
“We get stuck in the bubble of rugby sevens, so to mingle with the others … I grabbed a coffee with a fella from the lawn bowls team this morning.
“It’s great to be a part of it and (given their World Series form) why shouldn’t we be confident?
“We want a successful program so the job’s on us to make it one.”
Australia will play Uganda, Jamaica and Kenya in pool action on Friday and Saturday, with medal games on Sunday.