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Kerevi insists he's not the answer as Wallabies search for a new outside centre

The only problem is, the class act seemingly best equipped to replace Ikitau at outside centre in the two coming Bledisloe Cup matches against the All Blacks doesn’t want to play there.

Samu Kerevi first burst onto the Test scene in 2016 as a dynamic No.13 and reluctant No.12.

Now it’s the opposite, and it looked that way after Kerevi shifted from inside to outside centre after Ikitau was injured while scoring Australia’s opening try in Saturday night’s 34-31 Rugby Championship loss to Argentina.

Eddie Jones’ decision to pick halfback Tate McDermott and five-eighth Carter Gordon as his only two backs on the bench necessitated the reshuffle that ultimately brought the Wallabies unstuck at Commbank Stadium.

Australia had won their past four Tests when Kerevi and Quade Cooper formed a successful 10-12 axis, and the two combined to put Ikitau over as the hosts raced to a 10-0 lead in as many minutes.

But when Ikitau departed, the Wallabies’ attack broke down and their backline defence looked shaky.

“We prepared for different scenarios. That was the last one on my list, having Lenny out,” Kerevi said.

“Defensively, he’s one of the best in the world that I’ve played with. He’s been great there. Even his voice out there.”

Kerevi conceded the reshuffle robbed the Wallabies of rhythm.

Now coach Jones has been left searching for answers – but Kerevi doesn’t seem to believe he’s the solution.

“It’s funny, through the (Queensland) Reds years I was playing 13 and I actually didn’t like playing 12,” he said.

“Coming up with the Wallabies, I hated it and Cheik (former coach Michael Cheika) would put me there and obviously the Reds started putting me there.

“I’ll do whatever’s best for the team. But we’ve got some depth there. (Izaia) Perese has been playing well for the Waratahs. He’s training the house down, and some other backs that can fill that role.

“Obviously Lalakai (Foketi) can play there, shift from 12 to 13.”

Regardless of who steps up while Ikitau is out for up to eight weeks, a bullish Kerevi says the Wallabies will continue trying to play attacking, instinctive rugby, like that produced by lively winger Mark Nawaqanitawase on Saturday.

Nawaqanitawase was Australia’s stand-out.

His quick tap and burst created the opportunity for Cooper and Kerevi to put Ikitau over after just four minutes, then his 95-metre intercept try gave the Wallabies what appeared a match-winning lead late on.

“Eddie wants us to be like that,” Kerevi said.

“He wants us to play the game fast. We just didn’t have enough moments in the game to hold onto the ball to do that, to connect with each other through phases and get into that deep-phase count.

“Once we get that ball, we can move it really well. The game we want to play is there. Just little things, like the breakdown, little errors, are not allowing us to fully play that.

“But the feeling is positive. We want to keep pushing the boundaries in our skill set. We’re not going to find out (the limits) if we just do it at training. We’ve got to do in Test matches as well.

“We’ve got to learn some hard lessons. There’s a big goal at the end of the year and we’re striving for that and we don’t want to leave any stone unturned. We want to play as hard as we can.”