Paisami Hunting for Wallabies call-up after reaffirming Reds commitment

Wed, May 8, 2024, 5:55 AM
Murray Wenzel - AAP
by Murray Wenzel - AAP

Hunter Paisami's transformation from Super Rugby discard to in-demand Test centre will continue at Ballymore under a coach who thinks he can play five-eighth, too.

The 24-Test talent will remain with the Queensland Reds for another two seasons, knocking back international interest to remain at the club he played his 50th game for on Saturday.

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Paisami has been one of the Reds' best in a 5-5 season that hit new heights on the weekend with the first win in Christchurch against the Crusaders since 1999.

His versatility at inside or outside centre, coupled with a ferocious defence befitting of his first name, has flourished thanks to an injury-free pre-season and a new coach in Les Kiss.

"He can play 12 in so many different ways and 13 as well, and if we needed to 10, at any given time in a certain game," Kiss said.

"And he's just a good bloke as well." 

Samoan-born, Auckland-raised Paisami arrived in Brisbane looking for a fresh start, down the pecking order at the Melbourne Rebels and then cut due to off-field indiscretions.

He was sleeping at his agent's office at one stage, forced to prove himself in Brisbane's club competition before debuting for the Reds and Wallabies in 2020. 

Much has changed in four years, Paisami now a father flush with career options.

"Good players will always get attraction from outside," Kiss said. 

"That's part of the deal. Calm heads, chat at every level ... have the right conversations and we're super happy."

Paisami hasn't played a Test since 2022, but new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt - the New Zealander worked with Kiss when the pair both coached in Ireland - was central in the conversation to keep him in the country.

"The right people were in the conversations; Joe and I spoke extensively about it, and I know Joe had discussions with Hunter as well,'' Kiss said.

"We wanted to make a compelling case that rugby's growing ... and the way Hunter's going I'm sure he'll get his chance (for the Wallabies)."

The 26-year-old said the Brisbane lifestyle suited his family, and the Reds' environment had slotted him back into the Test frame.

"A major goal is to pull on that gold jersey again," Paisami said ahead of Friday's clash with the Rebels. 

"That starts here by playing my best footy for the Reds, and hopefully the opportunity to play at the next level comes from that.

"Having the British and Irish Lions touring Australia next year comes around once in a player's lifetime, and hopefully I can earn a part in that."

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