Wallaby hopeful switches to Rugby League
NEWS: Reports that Reds wing Izaia Perese is set for a shocking code switch, after linking up with the Brisbane Broncos, have been confirmed.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the 21-year-old has signed a training replacement contract with the Brisbane National Rugby League club through their Super Cup affiliate Redcliffe Dolphins.
The Queensland Rugby Union confirmed on Monday it has granted Perese a release from his contract at the Reds – “to pursue opportunities in another sport”.
“We have thought long and hard about this, as releasing players from their contractual commitments isn’t something we take lightly,” said QRU interim CEO David Hanham.
“Izaia was released on the basis of us identifying a quality replacement and this has certainly been achieved.
“We wish Izaia all the best for his future.”
Perese’s departure opened the door for Wallabies wing Sefa Naivalu to join the team, a transfer move also confirmed by the QRU on Monday.
Initially tipped to leave the franchise once his contract expires in 2020, Perese reportedly hasn’t shown up during Reds pre-season training and will get out of Rugby Union immediately.
The loss of Perese to Rugby League will be a tough blow for Wallaby coach Michael Cheika, who carried the young wing on tour and praised him as a future Wallaby.
Perese only managed five appearances for the Reds in 2018 after battling a knee injury, and in June rumours of a code switch began to circulate.
The 26-year-old Naivalu – who takes Perese’s place at the club – is a 10-Test Wallaby who was competing with fellow Wallabies outside backs Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge and Jack Maddocks for playing time in Melbourne.
The move to Queensland should see the explosive wing spend more time on the field in the lead up to next year’s World Cup, with Michael Cheika tending to pick the Fijian-born flyer when he is available.