Perese's journey from 'rock bottom' in France to the Wallabies squad
Izaia Perese is hopeful it’s third time lucky on the Wallabies’ spring tour as he makes his return from a shoulder injury which ruled him out of Tests so far this year.
The Wallabies set off on Wednesday to Japan where they will prepare for a Test against the Brave Blossoms on Saturday week, before travelling to the UK for Tests against Scotland, England and Wales.
The 24-year-old Perese is one of four uncapped players in the 37-man squad, which also includes northern hemisphere-based stars Will Skelton, Tolu Latu and Rory Arnold.
The Waratahs outside centre joined the Wallabies on tour in 2016 as a development player and also in 2017 as a full squad member, but is still to earn a Test cap.
Starting his career with the Reds where he played 17 times, Perese made the switch to rugby league and played two games with Brisbane in 2019 but he was sacked in 2020 after being charged with a drugs-related offence.
He was able to take up a a short-term rugby contract in France, which he called his “rock-bottom”, before joining NSW for this year’s Super Rugby, where he made a big impression.
“I’ve thought about it the last couple of weeks and had a chat with mum and it’s sort of funny that I’m back here now,” Perese said.
“It’s all meant to be, union is my game and they gave me a second chance.
“I just think it’s amazing … this time around I won’t take it for granted.”
Perese was in the sights of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to face the French in July but dislocated his shoulder against the Chiefs in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman a few weeks earlier.
Named Waratahs best player in 2021 after leading the side in tackle busts despite playing in just nine of 13 games, he said he hadn’t had discussions with Rennie about where he would be best used.
“I had a good chat with Dave (Rennie) about where I’m at with my shoulder, mentally and physically,” Perese said.
“When we get to Japan I will catch up properly with all the coaches and they will be able to run me through the Wallabies environment and what they expect from me.”
He admitted that while his shoulder had passed contact tests, he was unlikely to play against Japan.
“I think it would be rushing it a little bit but the contact I’ve been doing in the pre-season has been good and I’m confident in the shoulder,” he said.
“I reckon I would be ready but definitely the week after for Scotland.”
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