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Kuridrani facing Wales with point to prove

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016 Joe Barton

<span style="font-size:13px;">Tevita Kuridrani says he needs to make the most of his recall to the Wallabies starting line-up against Wales this Saturday.</span> © Mark Nolan/Getty Images Tevita Kuridrani says he needs to make the most of his recall to the Wallabies starting line-up against Wales this Saturday. Recalled Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani has a point to prove on the Spring Tour following a rollercoaster year in which he lost his starting spot and fell down coach Michael Cheika's pecking order.

The blockbusting outside back, a fixture in Cheika's starting sides since taking over in 2014, fell away midway through this season before copping the axe after the Wallabies' horror 42-8 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney in August.

Kuridrani's close friend Samu Kerevi was given the nod at outside centre and quickly set about making it his own, before an ankle injury suffered against the All Blacks last start ended his season.

However, it reopened the door for the softly-spoken 25-year-old.

"I think this Spring Tour is probably a point to prove and I think for me just taking my opportunity this weekend and see from there," Kuridrani said after earning the starting berth against Wales in Cardiff this Saturday (0130 Sunday AEDT).

"I'm pretty excited to get back out there with the boys this weekend.

"I haven't really played much gametime during the Rugby Championship.

"Samu has been doing really well in the 13, he's got the jersey.

"This weekend is another great opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to taking my opportunity."

Kuridrani also fought off a challenge from fullback Israel Folau, for whom a move to outside centre has been mooted, and his reward is a showdown against the world's most experienced midfield combination: Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies.

He'll do so alongside rookie No.12 Reece Hodge in an entirely new midfield pairing for the Wallabies, but Kuridrani says the pair is ready for their high-profile Welsh opponents.

"They've got two really big centres out there," the 40-Test veteran said.

"I think for us as a backline, the midfield defence is going to be the key this weekend.

"We've been working really hard this week, just getting our defence right (and the) communication with the midfield.

"I think Reece is a good defender as well and it's been automatic, we've clicked really well in defence."

Star flanker David Pocock, a teammate of Kuridrani's at the Brumbies, is confident the Fijian-born star will deliver on the big stage this tour.

"I've got so much faith in Tev, played a lot of rugby at the Brumbies with him. I know what he can do," Pocock said.

"I think it's one of those things, he's defended at 13 for years and years and it's just getting out there and backing your instincts and making those reads, (because centre is an) incredibly hard place to defend."

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