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Rotorua reunion: Perham preparing to be the No. 1 point of attack

While this year’s Harvey Norman All Stars clash will be a special homecoming for many of the Māori players, it'll be even more memorable for Rotorua product Hayze Perham, who will be running out in front of friends, family and schoolmates on familiar ground.

After being named in Ben Gardiner’s Māori All Stars squad, the 23-year-old former Rotorua Boys' High School student will be prepared for cheers and tears from family and friends when he makes his All Stars debut in the Māori's first game on home soil.

“Most of my family is here, I don’t know how many tickets I’ll be requesting, but it’ll be the majority of the allocation,” Perham told the media at Rotorua.

“Hopefully we can get them all into the game, Mum and Dad are stoked and all the wider family and travelling from all over to watch. I told the boys, ‘any spare ones [tickets] brothers, I need them.

“All my bros from Rotorua Boys, most of them are still local and they asked me for tickets about ten seconds after the team list got out on social media.

“It’ll be my first time playing at the stadium since school days. I played a few rep games, rugby and league at the stadium, and it’s always special.”

Perham, who joined the Bulldogs from the Eels during the off-season, is hoping to get a crack at the Māori’s No. 1 jersey after Joey Manu was ruled out on Monday for a facial fracture.

Perham hits straight back for the Eels

“He (Gardiner) has kind of said to be ready for anything really. I have been training at fullback for most of the pre-season at the Dogs, so hopefully, I get a crack there,” he said.

“I expect to float around the backline and help out wherever I can.

“It’s unlimited subs and the start of the season, so the boys will be fresh and we will have to see how the legs and lungs go. But I’ll be rotating around the backline.”

Despite only playing a singular NRL game at fullback, Perham is expected to be pushing incumbent Jake Averillo for the Bulldogs’ fullback position in 2023.

After training in the role during pre-season, Perham said Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo is excited to see what he can do if given an opportunity in the Māori’s spine.

Hayze Perham
Hayze Perham ©NRL Photos

“I have always backed myself in terms of running the ball and putting people into space. More of a focus has been on defensive, positioning, and organising the line,” he said.

“That has been my biggest priority this pre-season and I have definitely come a long way- so I am hoping that all the work I have put in over the off-season comes out in aspects of this game.

“(Ciraldo) has just told me to go out there and have fun. He has seen all the hard work I have put in and he has really pushed me this pre-season. He said he is excited to see what I can do out there, and I am the same.”

The countdown is on: Harvey Norman All Stars

After being called into the squad on Monday, 21-year-old Wests Tigers forward Tukimihia Simpkins will also be making his debut in front of a home crowd on Saturday alongside former teammate in Perham.

“It’s pretty crazy. When I saw this game was in Rotorua a while back it became a dream to play in it, but this is going to be unreal," Simpkins said. “He (Perham) was my captain at one point, so it is pretty cool to link up with him again.

“We always text now and then and also did a bit of training over the off-season together when we were back in Rotorua. It’s cool to be back together.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are 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.