Two of the St.George Queensland Reds emerging talents, Izaia Perese and Taniela Tupou, have been rewarded for their performances in 2016 after being named Wallabies development players that will travel to Europe with the 32-man squad for the Spring Tour.
Perese caught the attention of Wallabies head coach Michael Chieka during this year’s Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) season, where he beat a total of 36 defenders across five games for Bond University Queensland Country.
After missing out on playing in the Queensland and Australian U20s programs through injury in 2016, Perese is grateful to have the opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced players in Australia.
“It’s pretty unreal, I’m so stoked to just get the opportunity to go on tour and learn from people that have got so much experience at that level. I’m really excited to go on a learning curve and develop as a player and take my learning and my skills to the next level,” Perese said.
Tupou has gone from strength-to-strength in 2016, helping the Queensland U20s claim the inaugural Super U20s Championship title before making his debut for the Reds against the Brumbies in Canberra and claiming the Hospital Cup with his BLK Queensland Premier Rugby club Brothers.
With both players forming part of Reds head coach Nick Stiles’ plan for the 2017 Super Rugby season, the opportunity for the pair to travel with the Wallabies will be an invaluable experience.
"Taniela has had two years in our program and was always a long-term project in terms of his development,” Stiles said.
“You've seen through his performances in club Rugby, the Queensland Under 20s, National Rugby Championship and the Reds in Super Rugby that he has been progressing well. This is another great opportunity for his development. It will be hugely beneficial for him to train with the Wallabies as he continues to develop and looks to push for a starting spot with the Reds next year.
"Izaia is another pathway player that we identified at an early age and signed straight out of school. The intensity he has trained and played with is what gets us so excited about his potential and I know that's why the Wallabies are interested in him as well. He's earned an opportunity and will gain a lot from training alongside the Wallabies.
"We want a competitive squad with depth and multiple starting options. That's why it's great to see so many of our young players pushing to be the best in their position and getting opportunities to push for higher honours."
"We've put together a squad that has depth and we want a squad with plenty of Wallabies in it. So it's exciting to see those plans starting to come to fruition."
Perese and Tupou will be joined by NSW developing players Jack Dempsey and Andrew Kellaway. Perese, Dempsey and Kellaway are each eligible for Australia’s tour game against the French Barbarians in Bordeaux on November 24, while Tupou is 12 months away from completing his three-year residency requirement under World Rugby regulations.
The players will join the Wallabies squad this Friday, following Rugby’s night of nights, the John Eales Medal, with the season’s best player to be crowned alongside the Rookie of the Year as well as the best player for Men’s and Women’s Sevens, Wallaroos, Super Rugby, Buildcorp NRC and Under 20s.
Qantas Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika named a 32-man squad for the Spring Tour for Tests against Wales, Scotland, France, Ireland and England.
The squad features St.George Queensland Reds Kane Douglas, Nick Frisby, Rob Simmons, James Slipper and returning players Stephen Moore and Quade Cooper.
Coverage of the award ceremony and the Gold carpet will be broadcast LIVE on rugby.com.au from 5.45pm AEST, Thursday, 27 October.
For information on the Reds 2017 Super Rugby season and membership offerings, head to www.redsrugby.com.au.
Development players for 2016 Spring Tour
Jack Dempsey, New South Wales Waratahs, DOB: 12/04/94
Andrew Kellaway, New South Wales Waratahs, DOB: 12/10/95
Izaia Perese, Queensland Reds, Easts DOB: 17/05/97
Taniela Tupou, Queensland Reds, Brothers DOB: 13/05/96
2016 Spring Tour
Wales vs Qantas Wallabies at Millennium Stadium, 6th November 1.30am AEDT
Scotland vs Qantas Wallabies at Murrayfield, 13th November, 1.30am AEDT
France vs Qantas Wallabies at Stade de France, 20th November, 7.00am AEDT
French Barbarians vs Qantas Wallabies at Stade Chaban-Delmas, 24th November, Kickoff TBC
Ireland vs Qantas Wallabies at Aviva Stadium, 27th November, 4.30am AEDT
England vs Qantas Wallabies at Twickenham, 4th December, 1.30am AEDT