It’s been some year for Wallabies hopeful and former Auckland schoolboy Hunter Paisami.


It wasn’t that long ago he was staying in his agent’s office, but now, after a strong showing for the Reds, the centre is on the verge of his international debut.

The former Mangere College student played for the Blues under-18 side before moving to Melbourne as a 17-year-old with his family.

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In conversation with Schalk Burger

It didn’t take the Melbourne Rebels long to get in touch and he was part of the wider squad but failed to secure a long-term deal. He headed north to Queensland to join Brisbane Wests in 2019 before playing for Brisbane City in the NRC.

At one point he was living in the office of his agent Anthony Picone where he would only leave the room to eat and watch TV once office hours were over.

“I was a bit ashamed. I was a bit lost at the start when I lost my contract with the Rebels,” Paisami tells

“I made the move here with no family, didn’t know anywhere. Had to restart all over again.


“Early on, when I first moved in, I almost gave up after a couple of weeks, I was just going to go home.

“I had no car, nowhere to stay, I stayed at Kangaroo Point at my agent’s, but it just didn’t feel like home, it just felt like I was being punished.”

But he turned things after impressing with Brisbane City which earned him a new deal with the Reds. The 21-year-old quickly made an impact in Super Rugby this season earning the call-up to new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s Players of National Interest squad last month.

“I was pretty shocked when I first got his (Rennie’s) text,” Paisami said.


“Then I got a phone call and I thought it was a prank. He just called me and asked me how I was and how my injury was. He just said keep training well and he reckons I could play test footy this year.

“The second one was more of a feedback session and what he wants to see of me.

“What he likes of me is my explosiveness for my size and my running lines, and what he wants me to improve is repeat efforts, don’t die away from the game, keep going, just getting more fit.”

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