Izzy the next Ioane?

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

He's yet to make his starting debut but Izaia Perese is already drawing comparisons to one of Queensland rugby's favourite sons, Digby Ioane.

At 180cm and 91kg, Perese has a near identical frame to Ioane, who he will mark when he makes his run-on debut on Saturday night.

That's not where the similarities end, though, as Perese's power-packed game filled with dazzling footwork, surprising strength and fantastic finishes is reminiscent of the way Ioane helped carry the Reds to the Super Rugby title in 2011.

Ioane's return to the Crusaders XV means Saturday night will be the ultimate baptism of fire for the 19-year-old, as there is no more explosive winger in world rugby.

"There are a lot of similarities isn't there," coach Nick Stiles said.Izaia Perese cut a happy figure when he spoke to media this afternoon. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"Digby's want and fight through contact is something that has really set him apart from other wingers and when you watch Izzy play, he has exactly that.

"He's so physical and intense with everything that it reminds you of a young Digby.

Perese lit up last year's NRC and lead both tackle busts and line breaks en route to a Wallabies Spring Tour call up.

"Obviously he's a player with immense potential," Stiles said.

"That was shown by his selection to go on the Wallabies tour as a development player when he hadn't played a second of Super Rugby.

"That shows you what some coaches in Australian rugby think of him and I just liked when he came on against the Force, how he carried the ball with absolute aggression and intent to break tackles.Izaia Perese impressed Michael Cheika so much that he took him to Europe last year. Photo: Getty ImagesA schoolboy star at Churchie in 2014, Perese spoke with a youthful joy when asked about the prospect of facing off with a childhood hero.

"I grew up and watched him (Ioane) play and went to a few of his games when I was a kid and I honestly thought he was a phenomenal player," he said.

"I really think that some of how I play is similar to him but at the same time I would like to be recognised as myself, Izaia Perese."

The slippery, weaving runs of Melbourne Storm star Billy Slater also shaped as an inspiration for Perese.

"I really looked up to Billy Slater - I thought he was an amazing player," he said.

"I just admired how hard he worked off the ball and how he would just put his body on the line for the boys so I really admired Billy Slater since I was a kid."