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Kerevi backs Folau for Wallabies move

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Vince Rugari

Michael Cheika has indicated for the first time he is open to the possibility of a formal shift to the centres for Wallabies superstar Israel Folau.

Cheika needs to find a new option at No.13 after a season-ending ankle injury last week to Samu Kerevi in the third Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand.

The only obvious replacements in Australia's 32-man European tour squad are Tevita Kuridrani, the man who Kerevi originally bumped out of the team, and Folau, the incumbent fullback who dominated at outside centre this year for the NSW Waratahs.

Cheika has so far resisted mounting calls from supporters and ex-players to move Folau, even challenging reporters earlier this year to prove to him why it would be worth doing.

But injuries and circumstance might have finally forced his hand.

When Kerevi was forced from the field against the All Blacks, Folau played a hybrid role, attacking in the outside centre channel but dropping to the backfield in defence.

"If you watched the game the other night, he played a fair bit up in the frontline anyway; we mixed and matched - I've done that before when he was playing at the Waratahs," Cheika said on Wednesday.

"The fact we haven't taken another out-and-out 13, that will open up the option of him possibly playing there in some games."

Kerevi, who underwent surgery on Monday night after making eight Test appearances this year, backed Folau to make an impact in the centres but warned his teammate he'd have a fight on his hands for the jersey once he returned.

"I think he'll go very well (in the centres)," Kerevi said.

"I'm backing the boys in whatever position they're put. But when I'm better, I'll come back and chase him for it."

Kerevi said he was disappointed to miss out on what would have been his first tour of Europe.

"I really wanted to keep putting my mark on that spot I had in the Wallabies but this is footy - things like this happen," he said.

"I've just got to stay positive. I've been pretty happy with the season but there's still a lot of things I need to work on."

Kerevi should be fully fit by January, when he'll link up with a new-look Queensland Reds side for pre-season training.

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