Samu Kerevi to miss Australia-Georgia opener in Paris as heat strikes

Darwin’s pre-World Cup camp could prove crucial, with the Wallabies’ World Cup opener against Georgia in Paris set to be played in 30-degree heat and without star center Sam Kerevi.

Kerevi, who is recovering from a hand injury, sat in the dugout and watched the Wallabies train without him at their base in Saint Etienne as coach Eddie Jones selected his squad on Thursday.

Assistant coach Dan Palmer divulged little when asked but said Kerevi “was on the pitch” but Lalakai Foketi, who played his first test of the year at Intercentre against France late last month, appears a likely replacement.

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Jordan Petaia could also play at inside center but the Queenslander instead talked up 19-year-old Max Jorgensen, who has not played since injuring his knee during the Super Rugby Pacific season and it was a shock Jones was selected in the squad.

At the 2019 World Cup, Petaia was selected for his Wallabies debut after suffering a serious injury and was a big fill-in for Jorgensen, who trained as a full-back and could get a chance throughout the campaign.

“I hope he makes it (debut),” Petaia said.

“Max is elusive, a quick learner, gets on well with the boys, so it’s easy for him to fit in and mix with the boys. He is a good player.

Max Jorgensen could be a shock inclusion. Image: Chris Hyde/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“I stayed with ‘Jorge’ in Darwin. It’s pretty well known that his circumstance comes from injury and gives him a bit of guidance there.

“But he was obviously smashing it, so he didn’t need too much help.

Palmer also said Jorgensen was impressive in his training when he stepped it up.

“He’s been training really well, so some really good signs,” Palmer said.

“He hasn’t missed a beat since he got to camp. Of course, a young guy, but he threw himself into it and trained really well.”

But props James Slipper and Pone Fa’amausili have only made steady progress since injury.

The French heat has also returned just in time for the start of the tournament, and while the Wallabies are not interested in playing in the heat as any factor, Palmer said the Darwin camp before going to France could prove crucial.

“Obviously we had our camp in Darwin where it was a bit warm as well,” Palmer said.

“However, the most important thing for us is that we prepare well and improve every time we go into the field.

“And I think we’re seeing that, so we’re seeing the group narrowing.” We see that we adapt better to fatigue and pressure.”

The Wallabies face Georgia at the Stade de Francais on Sunday morning.

Ferdinand Medina

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