$10 bet that predicted Petaia’s rise
JORDAN Petaia has been a future Wallabies star in the mind of Samu Kerevi ever since the Reds skipper bet him $10 he would make the staggering rise in 10 months.
The duo are now partners and the Reds may just have found their most potent centre pairing since the glory days of Tim Horan and Daniel Herbert 20 years ago.
It's too early for such hyperbole, of course, yet when can anyone remember a Queensland centre pairing causing the havoc they did in Dunedin last Friday night?
The yin and yang of the best centre pairings was obvious.
Kerevi stepped and steamrolled. Petaia's body shakes, change of pace, nose to take a gap in a 148m running game and deft passing were perfectly complementary.
When you added Kerevi's sharp pass in the first try and Petaia's thumping tackle on All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell they were also doing things you don't always expect.
"No fear ... that's Jordie," Kerevi said.
"Even on the field, he always wants to learn how to run his lines better and he just goes for it.
"When I saw him for the first time in pre-season at the Reds last year at 17, I made a $10 bet with him that he'd go on the Wallabies' spring tour.
"He did and he hasn't paid up but he did shout me some good meals on that tour."
The new partnership will get a thorough test on Saturday night when All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue opposes Petaia at Suncorp Stadium for the champion Crusaders.
It was put to former Wallabies centre-turned-analyst Morgan Turinui that we shouldn't get carried away with Dunedin when Petaia is only 18.
"Nah, let's talk him up," Turinui said.
"This was a complete, commanding performance by a quality No.13 underlining this kid is a talent."
One of Kerevi's best moments came after the late 36-31 loss to the Highlanders when he apologised during his post-match interview for starting a sentence with "young."
"No, I'm not using 'young' anymore ... no excuses," he said.
"There was more belief, we weren't flustered and we had some strong defensive periods but we did shoot ourselves in the foot at a few key moments.
"We know how good the Crusaders are and we have to stay mentally engaged for the full 80 minutes against them."
The Crusaders are riding a 17-match winning streak and in that mood freakish flick passes like that of Manasa Mataele stick for Richie Mo'unga's try against the Hurricanes.
The Crusaders had floored the Hurricanes 24-0 by half-time last Saturday.
Coach Brad Thorn's makeover at the Reds has reached Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, a former teammate.
"They can play. You could see the difference in them already from a year ago," Robertson said in Christchurch.
"Brad's shaped them pretty well and it shows with the courage and heart they've got."
Thorn said key forwards Scott Higginbotham (shoulder) and JP Smith (knee) are expected to be back in selection contention.
The Reds-Crusaders clash could be one of the best at Suncorp Stadium this season.
Fans get their first chance to don their new maroon wardrobe to support the switch in jersey colour from red.