This year, Emry Pere signed a two year deal with the cowboys NRL squad and played his 2018 season with Cowboys feeder club, the Northern Pride.
Pere says the Cowboys were the right fit for him to learn and train alongside Australian representative props, Matt Scott and Jordan McLean, along with Tonga’s Jason Taumalolo.
"He’s a pretty good fulla, pretty friendly and kind, he’s just like a little kid in a big body,” says Pere, “I try and base my game around guys like Jason Taumalolo, Matt Scott and Jordan McLean and I idolise them, obviously."
Pere had a short stint in rugby before making a return to footy, making his debut for the Junior Kiwis team coached by Nathan Caylass against the Junior Kangaroos in May 2017.
"I was lucky enough to go to a school at Keebra Park, I played my junior footy there and I was lucky to get a scholarship to a private school on the Gold Coast called Southport School. I had a break from rugby league for a bit, I played rugby. I was lucky enough to get picked up from the Cowboys," says Pere
Rugby league is in the blood. Pere’s dad, James Waikai was named School Boy's Kiwi captain in 1989 and went on to be selected in the Junior Kiwis.
“My whole family has been brought up around rugby league and obviously dad was lucky enough to make School Boy's and be captain and play for Junior Kiwis."
Pere was only nine years old when he last played in New Zealand, for his junior club Taniwharau in Huntly.
The 20-year-old recently visited his local club Taniwharau. He says this week in camp with the Junior Kiwis reminds him of his home town.
“It brings back old memories and feelings that I had growing up, it’s a good environment and culture to be around,” says Pere.
The Junior Kiwis test will be the first curtain-raiser at the "Trans-Tasman showdown" at Mount Smart Stadium against Australia in Auckland, with the Kiwi Ferns facing the Jillaroos and Kiwis taking on the Kangaroos in the three-match program.