HE’S the 105kg wrecking ball the Queanbeyan Whites are hoping will propel them deep into the John I Dent Cup finals this season.
And Brumbies contracted outside-centre Tevita Kuridrani says he’s ready to step up in a bid to help Queanbeyan march past the Gunghalin Eagles in this weekend’s elimination semi-final.
The 21-year-old was one of five Brumbies players allocated to the Whites this season but is one of only two along with lock Leon Power to have featured heavily in Queanbeyan’s campaign this season.
With Power having left Australia to take up a playing contract in New Zealand, Kuridrani looms large as one of the Whites chief threats as the underdogs look to spring an upset against the Eagles on Sunday.
“I think because I’ve got that experience playing Super Rugby I have to step up this weekend and help my teammates,” Kuridrani says. “I just want to get the ball in my hands as much as possible this weekend so I can try to set up a few opportunities out wide.”
A former Australian under-20s and Australian Sevens representative, Kuridrani hails from the same Fijian village as the likes of Noa Nandruku and Lote Tuqiri.
Like his two idols, Kuridrani was got his first introduction to rugby on the sandy beaches of his homeland – far removed from the at times freezing climes of Campese Field.
“Every afternoon all the little kids would be on the beach playing touch footy,” Kuridrani recalls. “Everyone in the village plays rugby, I think it’s just in the blood.
“I think I’ve settled in [at Queanbeyan] really well though. I didn’t know anything about Queanbeyan at all before this year but I’m enjoying it here.”
And despite his somewhat daunting on field persona, Kuridrani’s tackle-busting efforts stand in stark contrast to his affable, softly spoken demeanour away from the rugby pitch.
“Initially when he came to the club he didn’t say too much, he just smiled a lot but I think he’s slowly got over that initial shyness,” Whites coach Wayne Southwell said. “He’s just a quiet personality but he obviously enjoys being here and he fits in really well.”
Southwell will be looking for Kuridrani to link up effectively with star fullback Robbie Coleman against the Eagles this weekend with the Brumbies duo holding Queanbeyan’s finals hopes largely in their hands.
Coleman and Whites captain Dan Penca were both rested for Queanbeyan’s final round clash against Wests last weekend but will return to the starting side for Sunday’s must-win match.
The news is not so good for backs Josh Goodall and Tyler Stevens who both now appear set to miss the rest of the season through injury while prop Les Makin and backrower David Beath are also in doubt.