Former Queensland Reds outside-back Izaia Perese has joined Super Rugby side NSW Waratahs ahead of the 2021 season, signing a two-year deal with club.
Perese featured for NRL club Brisbane Broncos on two occasions before having his NRL contract cut short after being charged on a drugs-related offence last year.
The @brisbanebroncos are in damage control tonight, forced to stand down one of their promising youngsters after he was arrested on drug charges. 22-year-old flyer Izaia Perese is banned from the club until the case is decided. https://t.co/VZ3A1cpmr5 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/M7SM1OJphX
— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) February 17, 2020
The 23-year-old returned to rugby following his stint with the Broncos, moving to French side Bayonne.
The Australian Schoolboys and U20's player has had a warm welcoming to the Waratahs, with NSWRU general manager Tim Rapp expressing his excitement of the signing.
“We’ve seen what Izaia is capable of in his previous stint in Super Rugby,” Rapp said, per the Waratahs' website.
“He’s an exciting, damaging player who gives another point-of-difference within our backline.
“It was a short stint for Izaia in France [due to COVID] and when we became aware he wanted to be back in Australia it was quickly evident this was a great fit for both parties.
“We certainly need to acknowledge some of the recent issues Izaia had during his time with the Broncos, and it’s something that we’ve spoken about with him at length.
“He understands the expectations we have of everyone within our organisation and we’re looking forward to supporting his transition into the Waratahs environment.”
Waratahs coach Rob Penney added to Rapp's comments.
“Izaia comes extremely well-regarded and having seen his previous work in Super Rugby, we’re excited to have him on board for the next two seasons,” Penney said.
“He’s worked with Gilly [Jason Gilmore] back in Queensland, so I’ve been able to get great background on his athletic ability and how he can contribute to our backline.
— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) March 18, 2017
“Izaia’s addition gives us good depth across the midfield and back three given his versatility.
“With plenty of competition for places, we’re looking forward to welcoming him into the group when everyone returns fresh from the Christmas break.”
Perese said he was excited to return home following a stint abroad.
“It’s been extremely tough being overseas throughout COVID and while I enjoyed my time in Bayonne, I’m really happy to be coming home,” Perese said.
“The Waratahs are a club I’m now proud to be a part of and having spoken to people in and around the club, there’s a lot to be excited about leading into 2021.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out on the training pitch and letting my footy do the talking.
“It’s been a challenging 12 months, but I know that being at the Waratahs is the best place for me both professionally and personally.”