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Exclusive: Wallabies star weighing up big move to England

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30th April, 2024
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The Wallabies’ midfield stocks could be about to go from bad to worse, with Hunter Paisami eyeing up a move to the English Premiership.

The Roar can reveal the 26-year-old is strongly considering a move to Exeter, with Rob Baxter’s side tabling a handsome offer to lure the 26-Test Wallaby away from Ballymore.

Given the quality he’s produced in 2024, it’s understood the Reds are desperate to keep Paisami. The issue is whether Rugby Australia will come to the party.

It’s believed RA has only tabled only a one-year top-up to keep the in-form centre, who is arguably the front-runner to wear the No.12 jersey in 2024.

In contrast, the Chiefs want Paisami to join England international Henry Slade in their backline and have offered him a long-term offer to head up north.

With Izaia Perese heading to Northampton and Jordan Petaia looming like another big name to leave Australian rugby, the Wallabies’ midfield resources would be stretched should Paisami leave.

It would leave Lalakai Foketi, who has faced his own injury setbacks throughout his career, as the only centre from last year’s World Cup campaign still in Australia. Samu Kerevi, the Wallabies regular, will remain in Japan over the next couple of years.

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Wallabies and Queensland Reds midfielder Hunter Paisami is weighing up a big move to Exeter. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

While Paisami failed to find his best form last year in part due to back-to-back injuries, the explosive midfielder has been his side’s best player in 2024.

He was one of the only players to leave New Zealand’s north island with his stocks still in place after the Moana Pasifika disaster, before another couple of stand-out performances against the Highlanders and Blues in Brisbane over the past fortnight.

After showing his array of skills and triple threat nature against the Highlanders, he was once again superb during the heartbreaking loss to the Blues on Saturday evening.

His chip-and-chase to send Tim Ryan in for his first of three five-pointers was one of the tries of the year.

“I’m a huge fan of Hunter,” former Wallaby Matt To’omua said on The Roar Rugby Rugby podcast.

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“It was nice hearing on the telecast, you can tell that Sonny Bill [Williams] is trying to get a comment on Hunter because he sees there’s a lot of potential.

“For me, he’s now a triple threat: he can pass, run and kick at a very good level.

“I think he’s a guy you’ve got to fit in somewhere. He can play 13, but we saw Lenny Ikitau return over the weekend. There might be a concern of the size of those two in the centres but in terms of physicality they well and truly tick those boxes.”

Last week, having led the Reds to an important win over the Highlanders, former Wallabies Stephen Hoiles and Morgan Turinui marvelled at Paisami’s development.

“How important is he to the Reds?” Hoiles said.

“They’re a different side with him. He missed a lot of footy last year, been in and out this year, he’s so valuable.

“If a game isn’t going their way, he can lock down and hit blokes for fun. If he needs to carry hard, he can distribute, he’s really evolved his game.”

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Tuirnui added: “He’s a much more complete footballer. He was great. He’s happy, he’s working hard, he’s got a mindset that no one’s going to get in his way in helping the Reds and getting his gold jersey back.

“He’s a much more complete footballer. Don’t call him a battering ram, he’s got nuance to his game and he’s got deception with his passing and kicking.”

The Reds have a ready-made centre in Isaac Henry on their books should Paisami leave, but the 25-year-old has struggled to stay on the park for any length of time.

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