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'If he does link up with Kerevi, it will be massive': Uncapped Perese ready to breakout

By Sam Smith

Trending on RugbyPass

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As the Wallabies 37-man squad prepares to travel to Oita to play Japan, Waratahs centre Izaia Perese is one newcomer whose winding path to a potential international debut has come full circle.

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After making Michael Cheika’s end-of-year touring squad in 2017 while with the Reds, he quit the rugby union a year later to chase an NRL opportunity with the Brisbane Broncos.

A move back to the XV-man game came in 2020, when Perese took up a contract with Bayonne in France, making five appearances before return home to Australia and joining the Waratahs.

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Wallaby head coach Michael Cheika on dealing with pressure
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Wallaby head coach Michael Cheika on dealing with pressure

His form Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman this year had talk of a potential Wallabies debut again before a dislocated shoulder sidelined him in June.

Now fit and firing, former All Blacks James Parsons believes Perese will get game time on tour in order to manage the minutes of Len Ikitau and Samu Kerevi, who have built a successful partnership in the midfield over Australia’s four-game win streak.

“Ikitau can’t play every game and every minute. He’s played probably a lot more minutes than he was expecting, and he’s built up a really good relationship with Samu Kerevi,” Parsons told the panel on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“They probably don’t want to play Kerevi every minute either, so there is an opportunity in the midfield for him [Perese]. I think Lalakai Foketi is going on tour as well. I’d love to see him get a crack.

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With Samu Kerevi still needing permission from his Japanese club to play, there is an opportunity for the midfielders to make the most of their selections including the pair of Waratahs.

“I think he was really good for Perese [at the Waratahs], making good decisions and setting him alight. If Foketi and Perese can match up in the midfield, it’s that cohesion factor that we know so well after speaking to [ex-Wallabies prop] Ben Darwin.

“They will know each other so well and it will bring the best out of them. If he does link up with Kerevi, it will be massive what he can learn off him during the week, but also mixing and mingling with him in a test match would be massive.”

In the mix for game time with Perese is his club teammate Lalakai Foketi, while Reds centre Hunter Paisami is also in the squad giving Dave Rennie plenty of midfield options alongside his pair of starters from the Rugby Championship in Ikitau and Kerevi.

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'If he does link up with Kerevi, it will be massive': Uncapped Perese ready to breakout

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