Perese in, Porecki out for Waratahs to face Reds in Super Rugby opener

Tue, Feb 20, 2024, 8:48 AM
AAP
by AAP

The NSW Waratahs have received a much-needed morale booster, with strike centre Izaia Perese saying he's good to go for their Super Rugby season-opening derby with the Queensland Reds.

However, they will be without hooker Dave Porecki after he failed to recover from an Achilles problem.

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Perese - who was in a moon boot barely a fortnight ago - is hopeful his World Cup teammate and teenage sensation Max Jorgensen will also make the trip to Brisbane for Saturday night's clash.

Jorgensen, a selection bolter under Eddie Jones, returned home from France without playing a match after fracturing a fibula in training during Australia's ill-fated Cup campaign.

The 19-year-old played a full half in the Waratahs A team's trial against a combined Manly and Warringah outfit last Saturday and Perese says the exciting fullback came through his comeback game unscathed.

It's now up to coach Darren Coleman whether or not he risks Jorgensen against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

"Maxy been tracking along really well," Perese said.

"He's been ticking every box really well his return on Saturday was to get through the game, get a few lung burners in, a few runs and contacts in and survive that.

"Now we're going into round one, we're going to really carefully manage Maxy.

"He's still very young and we want a long career out of Maxy boy."

While Jorgensen appears a 50-50 prospect, Perese - who played three seasons with the Reds from 2016-18 - is chomping at the bit to take on his old club after recovering from a foot injury, also sustained in training.

"The body's feeling good," Perese said.

"It was good to get a run and a bit of a hit-out there at the weekend, get some in the lungs and trot out there with the boys.

"So I'm feeling good going into this weekend."

The Waratahs won't risk Wallabies captain Porecki after tweaking the injury in the opening trial against the Rebels, missing the heavy loss to the Reds in Roma.

Lock Ned Hanigan will be given every chance to prove his fitness after a hamstring injury

The club suffered heavy losses to the Reds and Rebels in their two pre-season trials proper.

But there's been no hitting the panic button.

"The good thing about trials is you can really try and work on the basics and not give away too much," Perese said.

"Now that it's round one, we've got a clean slate and we're looking to showcase what we can bring.

"I think we'll be able to go up there and do a job this weekend.

"Being a Queenslander and playing for the Tahs as well, I'm very fortunate to have played on both sides.

"It's pretty funny, I know the feeling on both ends. I know how they're going to be coming into the game and we've just got to match it."

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