Troubled Perese grabs Waratahs lifeline after backing out of Bayonne

Former Brisbane Broncos player Izaia Perese has been handed a career lifeline by Rob Penney at the Waratahs after the 23-year-old was released by Top 14 club Bayonne for personal reasons in December.

Perese has agreed to move to France last May after his options were closed off in Australia after he fell out of favour with the Broncos and was stood down following an arrest for drugs possession.

However, he failed to settle comfortably enough in the south of France, featuring in just five Top 14 games (three as a starter in the midfield) and picking up two yellow cards. He headed home to Australia last month and has now started training with the Waratahs in the hope of reviving a career that was tipped for great heights.

Before he switched to the NRL Broncos in what was described by Australian media as a shock move from the Reds, Perese had been singled out on a number of occasions by then Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who included him in a training capacity in a number of squads

“He’s killing it,” the Australian coach said at the time. “He’s in a very competitive position. I think he’s a guy who can defend in the midfield as well. He’s got that genuine pace; he’s got a great mindset and a great attitude. He’s coming along very nicely.”

That progress was stunted at the Broncos and with his adventure at Bayonne now also short-lived, the Waratahs have opted to take a chance on the fallen would-be star.

“He likes the direction in which the Waratahs are trying to go and he can be a big piece of the puzzle,” said Penney after admitting he club had given Perese a one-year opportunity to try and finally find his feet. “He is a young man who made a mistake, but he is determined to do the right thing now.

“I guess everyone knows his story and through his actions, he can restore his reputation and that is what he will strive to do. He is a great kid. He made a mistake and got stuck in a bad environment for a while.”