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Wallabies starlet Izaia Perese reveals why he re-signed with the Waratahs

By AAP
(Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

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Winning a Rugby World Cup is the end goal but repaying the NSW Waratahs for their “huge gamble” was the overriding factor in Izaia Perese’s decision to remain in Sydney long-term.

One of the most exciting prospects in Australian rugby, Perese has committed to the Waratahs until at least the end of 2024 and looms as a Wallabies X-factor at next year’s global showpiece in France.

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But that’s merely the pot at the end of the rainbow for the powerhouse centre, with Perese intent on helping the Waratahs to a Super Rugby Pacific title before then.

The 24-year-old says he’s “forever grateful” to the Tahs for handing him a lifeline back in Australia while he was plying his trade in France after being sacked by the NRL’s Brisbane Broncos in 2020.

Perese pleaded guilty to supplying a dangerous drug in September 2019, leaving his professional football career in tatters.

“The opportunity the Tahs gave me when I first came from France, they took a huge risk because they genuinely didn’t know what they were getting with me,” Perese said on Tuesday.

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“The headlines I made before leaving France was drugs charges.

“So they took a huge gamble on me and I’m forever grateful for that and that played a huge factor in why I wanted to stay and hence why I’m doing my very best week in, week out is the least I can do to give back and try to make this team great again.”

One of the form players in the country since joining the Waratahs at the start of 2021, Perese says he couldn’t be happier at Daceyville.

“It all stems back to being France and knowing what I had taken for granted and then coming back here and being in an environment where it’s such an accepting environment regardless of what’s happened in the past,” he said.

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“And then going onwards with such a great bunch of lads where there’s no egos involved, where everyone loves to learn from each other.

“We all help each other, we all hold each other accountable and we’re all great mates off the field.

“So we’re such a tight-knit crew. The coaching staff as well.

“I genuinely believe we are building something pretty special here at the Waratahs under Darren Coleman, Jason Gilmore, Chris Whitaker, and Pauli Taumoepeau.

“And I just want to stick around because it’s my happy place.”

A former Redcliffe Dolphins player, Perese said talk of reuniting with Wayne Bennett in the NRL was just that.

“We had definitely opened up shop when we were sort of looking but in a sense there was no serious talk,” he said.

“That was just a huge rumour.”

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