Redcliffe Dolphins centre Izaia Perese must be on the cusp of adding an NRL debut to his previous Super Rugby career.
In the course of covering the NRL, I often get asked 'who is the next young gun in the Intrust Super Cup to go to next level?' and there are plenty of contenders you could rattle off.
It was no surprise that Norths Devils flyer Herbie Farnworth made such a good fist of his two NRL matches for the Broncos and boom Sunshine Coast Falcons forward Tino Fa’asuamaleaui did the same for the Melbourne Storm.
All the above-mentioned players are NRL-contracted and that is the way it unfolds these days with the top 30 list and six development players with all NRL clubs.
The days of a player getting elevated to the top grade without having an NRL deal of some description are long gone.
Perese is Broncos-contracted and a real handful out in the centres for the Dolphins.
He leads the Intrust Super Cup for tackle breaks with 108 in just 14 games.
Perese has scored six tries in his last seven games and played a crucial role in a last gasp win over Ipswich Jets and in an upset win over Burleigh Bears to keep the Dolphins inside the top eight and on track to play finals football.
After signing with the Broncos in the pre-season, Perese spoke about how he grew up playing league and enjoyed the physicality of the lock forward position as a junior.
That physical strength has been on show on numerous occasions this year, where Perese’s upper body power has come to the fore.
He shrugged off Ipswich prop Nat Neale, no easy feat, and has the ability to not only get through attempted tackles by accomplished defenders, but also maintain his balance and poise.
That is translating into try assists, an aspect of Perese’s play that has improved of late.
The Broncos have given Perese a season in Intrust Super Cup to find his feet after starring for the Queensland Reds before falling out of love with rugby union.
There have been vacancies in the Broncos centre ranks with Jack Bird injured and James Roberts leaving mid-season.
The Broncos have elected to go with Gehamat Shibasaki and Xavier Coates on occasions this year, or plug a hole with versatile back-rower Alex Glenn, but Perese won’t be far away from getting a shot in the future if he keeps tracking the way he is.
Farnworth showed in the 18–18 draw with the New Zealand Warriors that he has the toughness and resilience to play NRL.
The athleticism and skill of the Englishman is clear, but against the Warriors he made 143 metres from 19 tough runs and missed no tackles.
More NRL should be just around the corner for Farnworth at the Broncos, while Coates has answered every challenge at the levels beneath the NRL that he has played. He too will get to add to his three NRL games thus far in future.
In the case of the Broncos, there are several outside backs coming through the system who appear to have plenty of NRL games ahead of them.