Facing haka might have been awkward, but Samu's feeling right at home
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Facing haka might have been awkward, but Samu's feeling right at home

Back-rower Pete Samu may have had to avoid eye contact with Crusaders teammate Joe Moody during a recent Bledisloe Cup haka but says he is comfortable with his decision to switch allegiances to the Wallabies, who he believes can win next year’s World Cup.

Samu was called in as a late replacement for David Pocock in Saturday’s match against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium. The 26-year-old got through 80 minutes and can’t remember the last time that happened.

Confident: Wallabies back-rower Pete Samu on the Gold Coast on Monday ahead of Australia's match against Argentina.

Confident: Wallabies back-rower Pete Samu on the Gold Coast on Monday ahead of Australia's match against Argentina. Credit:AAP

Pocock is likely to be given the all-clear this week to face Argentina at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast but Samu is proving to be a big addition to the Wallabies' plans 12 months out from a World Cup.

After a tussle with New Zealand Rugby – given Samu is contracted with the Crusaders and also eligible to play for the All Blacks – Rugby Australia was able to get Samu released and in a gold jersey for Tests against Ireland. He has played in all six international matches for Australia this year.

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Natural in green and gold: Pete Samu offloads against South Africa in Brisbane.

Natural in green and gold: Pete Samu offloads against South Africa in Brisbane.Credit:AP

Samu said there were no formal approaches from the All Blacks to stick around but admitted there was some banter with Kiwi players around the time of the Bledisloe Cup last month.

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“Just the normal Kiwi-Aussie banter, nothing too serious, all good fun,” Samu said.

“I was trying to keep a straight face during the haka because I could see Joe Moody smiling at me during it. I had to sort of step in behind one of our tall boys so I didn't have to look at him.

“A few boys said 'good game' but there wasn't much time. [All Blacks centre] Ryan Crotty actually gave me his jersey. I went to give him mine as a swap but he said: 'When you get a few more we can swap’.”

Samu is enjoying his time in the Wallabies set-up and is tipping big things for the side over the next few years.

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“Getting closer to home was the main reason and obviously there is the World Cup next year,” Samu said. “I definitely believe we can win the World Cup next year.

“A year ago I was playing Mitre 10 Cup in New Zealand and this wasn’t really a thought or a plan.

“I was pretty keen to come back and join the boys because, obviously, I know a lot of them from when I was playing in Australia before. The Wallabies have their own culture and everyone is striving to get better."

Asked about his first start for the Wallabies, at No.8, Samu said it was “pretty nerve-wracking” and was confident the side could transfer some winning momentum into a clash with the Pumas this Saturday.

“We just have to prepare the same we did against South Africa,” Samu said. “They had a good game against the All Blacks last weekend and I think if we tick all the boxes this week hopefully the result will show on the weekend.”

Tom Decent is a journalist with Fairfax Media.

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