SYDNEY – Inspirational Queensland Reds captain Samu Kerevi joined an exodus of top Australian players Friday when he announced a move to Japan after the World Cup, although Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani opted to stay with the Brumbies.
The highly-rated Kerevi said he signed a three-year deal with Suntory for family reasons. His contract is reportedly worth Aus$1.2 million (US$828,000) a season, much more than he can earn at home.
“It was a tough decision in the end but it was something I had to think about not just for myself, but for my family, especially,” the 25-year-old, who has been in outstanding form this year, told reporters.
“There was a lot of tossing and turning with the whole decision but a lot of factors (went) into the whole decision.”
He will almost certainly be in the Australia squad for the World Cup in Japan this year, but his decision to move overseas will then bring his international career to a halt.
The Fijian-born Kerevi has played just 25 times for the Wallabies and under current rules anyone who has made less than 60 appearances and moves abroad is no longer eligible.
His announcement comes after Sekope Kepu, David Pocock, Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona all decided to take up lucrative contracts abroard after the World Cup, and follows Israel Folau's sacking for a homophobic post on social media.
While Kerevi's departure is a further blow for the Wallabies, Kuridrani delivered some good news by extending his contract with the ACT Brumbies for another year.
The 28-year-old, who has played 58 Tests, has also been in sparkling form this season and he too looks a certainty for the World Cup squad.
“I am very pleased to have signed this extension to my current contract,” he said. “Canberra has been my home for a long time now and I love playing for the club in front of our fans who have always been very good to me.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he was happy Kuridrani, who missed the 2018 international season through injury, was staying in Australia.
“I know he's very hungry to earn a Test jersey again this season so I am looking forward to him being at his best in 2019,” he said.
The Brumbies have already won Super Rugby's Australian conference to ensure a home quarter-final with one game still to play, against Kerevi's Reds on Saturday.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)