How England turned Waratah Dave Porecki into the waiting Wallaby

But when Saracens’ short-term offer arrived soon after – and Dr. Google briefed Porecki on Saracens’ prestigious reputation and juicy exchange rate – he jumped.

In classic Gilligan’s Island tradition, the four-month deal would span a five-year stint in London, but during Porecki’s first week at Saracens, England roster guru Simon Hardy came to see this barn door.

Dave Porecki in action for London Irish in 2017. Credit:Getty

“He made me throw balls and after 15-20 balls he came to me and pretty much gave me what I wanted to hear which was, ‘You’re shit, but that’s how we’re going to make you better,'” Porecki said.

Hardy, who was the RFU roster coach for England’s 2003 World Cup squad, began working with Porecki, using unusual drills. As a self-taught former lineout throwing prop, Porecki had his flaws, but Hardy used a broomstick to his chest to enforce an upright stance, and even boxing gloves to slowly refine the technique.

“It focuses on feeling what it should look like in your follow-up. It should feel like you can put your hands in a boxing glove at the end,” Porecki said.

You’re shit, but that’s how we’re gonna make you better.

Dave Porecki on his lineout throw

“So he was holding two boxing gloves in front of my face and I was following with the ball and trying to get my hands through the boxing gloves.”

A move to the London Irish followed for Porecki, and with that move, four years of relegation and promotion to the English Premiership. But with Hardy’s continued training and under current Gloucester manager George Skivington as ‘Old Testament’ forwards coach, Porecki’s development in the dark arts grew and grew.

“For me it was beautiful, the game is all about scrum, lineup, maul, physicality and it was exactly where I needed to be to develop,” Porecki said.

The coaching provided by the RFU was well received, but the lure of the Red Rose never outweighed the desire to play gold. And as more and more Wallabies like Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Adam Coleman arrived at London Irish, it only got stronger.

Dave Porecki is focused on a strong end to the Super Rugby season with the Waratahs.

Dave Porecki is focused on a strong end to the Super Rugby season with the Waratahs.Credit:Getty

“Every year I feel like my weaknesses have become my strengths, and I want to try that at home,” Porecki said.

Back in 2019, when long-term deals with two English clubs were on the table, Porecki asked for a two-week grace period to assess interest in Australia and it was a good move. Recently appointed RA Director of Rugby Scott Johnson was a huge fan.

“On the night of the last day, they sent an offer. I went to my wife (Shani) and said, ‘We can go home,’ and she burst into tears,” Porecki said. “Good tears.”

Porecki returned to the Waratahs in 2021 and his quality was immediately evident. The 29-year-old is the most complete hooker in Australian rugby, with strength at the scrum and precision at the lineout coupled with a mobile style and high work rate.

A calf injury prevented Dave Rennie from choosing Porecki for the Wallabies last year, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the 29-year-old make his debut in the No 2 against Eddie Jones’ England during of the first test in July.

After years of scratching with unreliable roster pitchers, Porecki could finally solve the Wallabies v England problem, thanks to England-funded tuition.

“It’s funny because in the UK I’m considered a hooker on the pitch, and here I’m considered a hooker on a set piece,” Porecki said. “It shows the different priorities. But the really successful ones are the ones who can do both and I still believe that I’m far from the finished product, or that I can be considered a world-class pitcher.

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Porecki has never made a secret of his desire to play for Australia, having spent his career in reverse order of going overseas first, Test footy second. But he keeps his eyes firmly on the sky blue of NSW. The rest can wait.

“I want to end the year at the Tahs playing very, very well and that would speak in favor of being picked in the team,” Porecki said.

“If that happens and I play well enough, that’s weird…that would be the end of this chapter but it would be the start of a new one, where I now want to pursue how good I could be on a international organize.

“It would just start another fire. You can always improve. That’s where my head is. What should I do to become a better player? Ok, let’s do this.

Watch all matches from Super Rugby Pacific on the home of rugby, Stan Sport. Continue this weekend with Reds v Moana Pasifika (Friday 7:15pm AEST), Brumbies v Blues (Saturday 7:15pm AEST) and Highlanders v Waratahs (Sunday 1:15pm AEST). All streaming ad-free, live and on-demand only on Stan Sports.