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Perese: I grew up watching Ioane, Slater

NZN 9/03/2017 Vince Rugari

Queensland Super Rugby coach Nick Stiles isn't afraid to talk him up as the next Digby Ioane, but there's another player boom winger Izaia Perese wants to emulate.

The nuggety 19-year-old, to make his starting debut in Saturday night's clash with the Crusaders, also grew up idolising NRL superstar Billy Slater.

"I'll be honest with you - I didn't watch a lot of union because it wasn't on television," Perese told reporters on Thursday.

"I watched a lot of league and I really looked up to Billy Slater. I thought he was an amazing player.

"I just admired how hard he worked on the field and off the ball, how he would put his body on the line for the boys."

Whenever Perese managed to catch a 15-a-side game, though, Ioane was his man.

"I went to a few of his games when I was a kid and I honestly thought he's a phenomenal player," he said.

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

With a powerful, lowset frame not unlike the former Reds' fan favourite, it looks likely the pair will go head-to-head this weekend.

After scoring a try with his first touch in Crusaders colours at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, Ioane is poised to return to his old Suncorp Stadium stomping ground to make his full debut for his new team.

For Stiles, the similarities between them are almost spooky.

"Digby's want and his fight through contact was something that really set him apart from a lot of other wingers," he said.

"You watch Izzy play - it's exactly that.

"Every Queensland fan's got really strong memories of Digby running off Quade and scoring some fantastic tries.

"That was a long time ago, but you just knew the Crusaders would bring Diggers in for this game because he enjoys it."

Taken on Australia's European tour last year before he had played a minute of Super Rugby, Perese has been tipped for big things this year and had impressed coming off the bench in last week's defeat to the Western Force.

"I'm pretty nervous but, at the same time, very excited to play in front of my family," he said.

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