Promising Queensland Reds winger Izaia Perese has reportedly agreed to swap codes and make a bid for an NRL contract with Brisbane.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the 21-year-old Reds star has signed a training replacement contract with Broncos feeder club Redcliffe Dolphins with a full-time NRL contract highly likely.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had suggested the young Queenslander would be part of his World Cup plans after Perese toured with the national side in a training capacity during the Rugby Championship last year.
“He’s killing it. He’s in a very competitive position. I think he’s a guy who can defend in the midfield as well,” Cheika said then.
“He’s got that genuine pace. He’s got a great mindset and a great attitude. He’s coming along very nicely.”
Perese is understood to have skipped Reds training for some time as his exit was thrashed out behind the scenes.
The newspaper also says Melbourne Rebels winger Sefa Naivalu, himself a promising Wallabies prospect, will move to the Reds to replace Perese.
Board to consider Cheika’s position
Michael Cheika’s fate as Wallabies coach will be determined at a high-stakes Rugby Australia board meeting in Sydney on Monday.
But any announcement, or changes to Cheika’s wider coaching panel, are unlikely to be announced until Wednesday at the earliest as the governing body digests the Wallabies’ worst season in 60 years.
As well as Cheika being asked to explain Australia’s nine defeats from 13 Tests in 2018, the board will consider reviews from high-performance boss Ben Whitaker and RA chief executive Raelene Castle.
Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne backed Cheika before last month’s spring tour but further disappointing losses to Wales and a record sixth-straight defeat to Eddie Jones’ England have left disillusioned fans demanding change.
It’s expected Cheika will be spared the sack, despite his winning strike rate with the national team falling below 50 per cent, the worst of any coach in the 22-year professional era.
The names of Jones, former Wallabies attack coach Scott Johnson, now working with Scotland, and ex-Super Rugby-winning mentor David Nucifora have all been bandied about as desirable Australian replacements for Cheika.
But it’s more likely that one or more of Cheika’s assistants – attack coach Stephen Larkham, defence coach Nathan Grey, forwards coach Simon Raiwalui or skills coach Mick Byrne – will be sacrificed in a move design to show RA doing something in the face of crisis.
Cheika’s effort to guide the Wallabies to the 2015 final against all odds also has Test greats David Campese and Stirling Mortlock believing the former international coach of the year remains the man to lead Australia to next year’s World Cup in Japan.
Campese last week pointed out the Cheika had blooded 35 newcomers to the Test arena since the last World Cup and that the short-term pain may prove the Wallabies’ long-term gain at the 2019 global showpiece.