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Dannii Perese: 'I feel good about the year to come'

Burleigh Bears prop Dannii Perese’s rugby league journey started on the wing at Nerang Roosters and has landed her at the Gold Coast Titans and in the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons squad.

The 19-year-old is blown away by her rise through the ranks from Harvey Norman Under 19s to BMD Premiership to the NRLW and cannot wait to see what 2024 has in store for her.

“I was playing for fun and then kept playing and didn’t take it too seriously until I went to the Burleigh Bears for the Harvey Norman Under 19s,” Perese said.

“It has gone from there.”

Perese said 2023 for her was “fast and it was fun”.

“Everything happened so fast… it was good,” Perese said, adding being part of the Bears and Titans grand final teams was “so good”.

“None of it felt real.”

Perese playing for Burleigh in the BMD Premiership grand final. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL
Perese playing for Burleigh in the BMD Premiership grand final. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL

Perese, one of four sisters who grew up in Nerang, is inspired by Burleigh teammate and Maroons vice-captain Zahara Temara.

“I’ve learnt a lot from training from different players like Z at Burleigh… she is really into high standards off the field as well as on the field, so that has influenced me a lot,” Perese said.

“I really like her intensity and the way she plays smart… she’s not always going 100 miles per hour, but she’s setting up perfectly.”

Perese, who started playing rugby league at 14 at Nerang Roosters alongside fellow Maroons squad member Rilee Jorgensen, said she was “very nervous but very excited” to be called into Maroons camp in February.

“I was so nervous but then I saw my friend Rilee was coming in… then I was excited,” Perese said.

Perese was selected to play in Queensland Under 17 City versus Country and Queensland Under 19s, but injury prevented her taking the field for either.

She was involved in both camps, where she learned what it meant to be a Queenslander and what it would take to excel in rugby league.

“Mainly to give it your all and that’s all they asked,” Perese said.

The young gun said she loved the culture around rugby league and that’s what kept her striving to excel.

“Everyone comes together to teach you and then you see how fast you develop under someone coaching you,” Perese said.

“(To wear maroon one day) would be a big pride thing for me… my parents put a lot into me going to training, and all the coaches I’ve ever had, so I think representing everyone would be amazing.

“My goal is to be better than last year. I feel good about the year to come.”

The Bears take on Norths Devils in Round 1 of the BMD Premiership on Saturday.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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