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Player of the week: Matt Perry


Matt Perry usually travels the world playing rugby, but covid-19 has kept him at home working on the family’s Whareama farm. CHRIS COGDALE caught up with the tearaway East Coast flanker.

Matt Perry is making every post a winner in his second full season with East Coast since covid-19 stopped his annual pilgrimage to Canada to work and play rugby.

The son of Whareama farmers Simon and Canadian-born Meg, the 25-year-old would normally be running around the rugby fields of southern Alberta, with the sport being a summer code in the landlocked province because of the intensely cold winters.

But with the onset of the pandemic, Perry stayed at home, and his form has caught the eye of many astute judges.

In a match-winning performance in the 38-22 win over Pioneer, the speedy flanker scored a try with a stunning individual effort over 40m and set up another in the final stages.

“The halfback [Greg Paku] had the foresight to put me in position for a quick lineout throw and then there was a gap between their slow forwards and their backline.

“I think I surprised them with my speed and got through that and then managed to fend off their 12 [Nikora Ewe] and found a space past their 15 [Wiremu Haira] and it just opened up for me,” Perry said.

Perry first pulled on rugby boots for the Coast juniors before playing for a very competitive Rathkeale team in the first season of the Central North Island Championship.

He then studied engineering at Canterbury University, but a shoulder reconstruction halted his rugby career, so he went to Canada to connect with his extended family.

Perry played the odd game for Coast on his brief returns home, but fate has seen him become a regular fixture in this year’s side who he believes can be a threat in the playoffs with several players to return from injury.

“We’re a strong chance. We’re not the biggest team, but we can muster a very physical defence, and I think that surprises a lot of teams.”

As for his prospects of making the Wairarapa-Bush Heartland squad, Perry said that was a subject people spoke to him about often.

“Yes, absolutely, I would be interested in playing for the Bush, but at the moment, I’m just focusing on playing some good rugby for East Coast, and if they want me, they have my number.”

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