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Code-hopping Izaia Perese to stay in Australian rugby

By Sam Smith
Izaia Perese (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

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Code-hopping Wallabies prospect Izaia Perese has peneed a new deal that will keep in Australia until the end of 2024.

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Perese joined the Sydney-based Super Rugby Pacific team last year and fought his way into Dave Rennie’s 2021 Wallabies squad, making his debut against Scotland in Edinburgh on the year-end tour.

The 24-year-old made an immediate impression in his debut season in sky blue, becoming only the second player, after Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, to win the Matt Burke Cup in his first year at the club.

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Perese, a prospective Test player, represented Australia’s Schoolboys and Under 20s before making his Super Rugby debut for Queensland as a 19-year-old in 2016.

The Waratahs have offered Perese a two-year contract for 2021 and 2022. Perese is a muscular ball carrier and aggressive defender who can have an impact on both sides of the ball and can play a variety of positions across the backline. The centre is the latest national star to commit to Australian Rugby ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

“A major part of me re-signing is my happiness, I just love the Waratahs and everything they are about, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Waratahs gave me last season,” said Perese. “The whole organisation from the coaching staff, players, and admin office opened their arms and looked after me making me feel incredibly welcome. So, it was an easy decision to extend my time here.

“I genuinely believe we are building something pretty special here at the Waratahs under Darren Coleman, Jason Gilmore, Chris Whitaker, and Pauli Taumoepeau. Our playing group is one of a kind and it’s an environment that has allowed me to play my best footy and a place I want to stick around and be a part of.

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“It’s a similar feeling in what Dave Rennie is doing with the Wallabies and the culture he has established in his time there. I’m extremely grateful for the experience I got on the Spring Tour last year and it’s a team I’m incredibly motivated to be a part of, especially with a Rugby World Cup not too far away.”

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said it was a ‘great result’ for Australian Rugby.

“He has a real point of difference in the way he can create genuine impact on both sides of the ball.

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“We feel he’s still scratching the surface of what he’s capable of as a player and this new contract will allow him to settle in Sydney with his young family which will create a positive environment for him to continue to grow.”

Waratahs head coach Darren Coleman said: “Izzy is a genuine powerhouse that could lay claim to being one of the most powerful ball carriers in Australian Rugby. We are delighted that he’s decided to re-commit to the Waratahs as he is an incredibly sought-after player and it’s a good reflection of the trajectory we are on.”

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