Canberra Vikings flanker Rowan Perry. Photo: Graham Tidy
Free-spirited Canberra Viking Rowan Perry will consider hitchhiking his way to a Super Rugby opportunity if one does not present itself in Canberra.
Vikings director of rugby Dan McKellar says Perry has been “crucial” off the bench this season, a role he will again fill against Melbourne Rising at Viking Park on Friday night.
In 2013 the exuberant flanker spent two weeks in New Zealand with his brother and sister, where they hitchhiked around the country and slept under bridges.
After one of his first matches with the Tuggeranong Vikings in Canberra’s John I Dent Cup, the 21-year-old asked coach Brad Harris to drop him on the highway so he could hitchhike down to Batemans Bay.
The ACT Brumbies are yet to announce their final signings for their extended playing squad, but if Perry doesn’t snare one of them then he’s not afraid to hit the road.
“I think when you’re a young footballer you have to take what comes to you,” Perry said.
“So if an opportunity did arise somewhere else, I’d have to take it.
“If something were to arise in Canberra I’d definitely want to stay, but you’ve got to do what’s best for your career.”
McKellar was pleased with the way Perry had progressed in the NRC program.
“Rowan is another one of those guys who has been crucial for us off the bench,” he said.
“He’s very good on the ball, he’s got the ability to force turnovers on the ground and he’s done that whether he’s playing 30 minutes, 20 minutes at the back end of games.
“His energy and his carry, his lineout work, we’re really happy with how Rowan is progressing.”
Perry has played a part in the Vikings’ undefeated start to the National Rugby Championship, coming off the bench in every game this season.
He said it was hard finding a balance between trying to make an immediate impact and focusing on his role.
“I’ve gotten on every week, which you’ve got to be happy with. Sometimes it can be hard coming off the bench as you’re trying to get yourself involved in the game as quick as you can,” Perry said.
“Sometimes you can be tempted to try and do a million things at once. You’ve got to concentrate, do your job properly and not make any errors.”
Wallabies prop Ben Alexander is one of five changes to the Vikings squad to take on the Rising.
He was rested for the Vikings’ 63-37 win against the North Harbour Rays last weekend.
Canberra Vikings Squad: 1. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Robbie Abel, 3. Ben Alexander, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Blake Enever, 6. Jordan Smiler, 7. Jarrad Butler, 8. Ita Vaea, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Lausii Taliauli, 12. James Dargaville, 13. Nigel Ah Wong, 14. Jerome Niumata, 15. Aidan Toua. Reserves: 16. Albert Anae, 17. Sione Taula, 18. Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19. Dean Oakman-Hunt, 20. Rowan Perry, 21. Brent Hamlin, 22. Isaac Thompson, 23. Frankie Fainifo.
Melbourne Rising Squad: 1. Fereti Sa’aga, 2. Mitch Andrews, 3. Cruze Ah-Nau, 4. Sam Jeffries, 5. Steve Cummins, 6. Luke Jones, 7. Jordy Reid, 8. Pom Simona, 9. Ben Meehan, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Stacey Ili, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 13. Dom Shipperley, 14. Justin Marsters, 15. Jonah Placid. Reserves: 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. Duncan Chubb, 18. Tom Moloney, 19. Murray Douglas, 20. Sione Taufa, 21. Maradona Farao, 22. Lloyd Johansson, 23. Filipe Vilitati.