Waratahs coach Rob Penney says the club will not abandon centre Izaia Perese, despite the new recruit receiving a three-week suspension for a lifting tackle on fellow centre Hunter Paisami in his side’s Super Rugby AU loss to the Queensland Reds.
Former Reds and Brisbane Broncos back Perese was handed a lifeline by the Tahs with a one-year deal after being axed by the Broncos last year following charges for drugs offences.
But his first match for the Tahs ended in disaster when he was shown a red card following a dangerous tackle late in the first half of the 41-7 loss and his three-week suspension means he will miss a hefty proportion of the Super Rugby AU season.
The brain explosion could have had Perese‘s career on thin ice, with Penney agreeing referee Damon Murphy was left with no choice but to sent the 23-year-old off.
But Penney felt for Perese, who he said was working hard to regain trust and the form that saw him travel to Europe with the Wallabies as a Spring Tour invitee as a teen in 2016.
“It’s devastating for him, no doubt, he wants to contribute,” Penney said.
“We’re lucky that we’ve got a bit of depth in that position to come in … but it’s just his personal circumstances now, we’ve just got to support him and see him through this.
“He’ll be back.”
Playing against his old club, Perese had wanted to make his mark and Penney said he may have been over-aroused.
“We tried to keep the heat off him this week but he’s a very competitive man and he just overplayed his card,” he said of the tackle in which he continued to drive Paisami into the Suncorp Stadium turf after the Red had lost possession of the ball.
“You just feel so heartbroken for Izzy, he’s a talented young kid, he’s just come back to try to re-establish his reputation and that’s a tough start for him.
“But he’ll get a lot of support from us because we love him. It’s a tough start for him but he’ll get a bit of learning out of it.”
Perese avoided a jail sentence after pleading guilty last year to supplying a dangerous drug, receiving a supervision order and gaining permission to travel to France where he was playing for Top 14 club Bayonne.
But the Brisbane Easts product wanted to return to Australia and was offered a lifeline by the Waratahs, where Penney said he had fit in well.
“I think to a man, everyone would say he’s been a pleasure to have about,” Penney said.
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