Jack Debreczini is a player that most will associate with Australian Super Rugby, but the approachable outside back has landed a contract with the Chiefs in New Zealand, and it wasn’t just his own doing.
The outside back is well-travelled in Super Rugby since making his debut for the Rebels in 2014, amassing a respectable 53 caps so far. However, coming to New Zealand was never a realistic option, or so he thought. Born in Auckland, Debreczini moved to Australia when he was just a year old. Debreczini is the nephew of an influential former provincial player with connections in NZ Rugby, and his arrival in New Zealand is due to some help from that voice.
“My uncle sent a few emails around to some teams and he was getting a few bites back, so from there it became a realistic option to play over here”, Debreczini said.
Debreczini eventually signed with Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup for the 2018 season and immediately impressed, leading to the eventual call from Chiefs ahead of the 2019 preseason in November.
With the ability to play in multiple positions, Debreczini’s versatility has seen him find success in Japan with the Honda Heat, leading to him being hailed a future Wallabies star. However, the 25-year old fell out of favor with the Melbourne Rebels upon his return to Super Rugby in Australia, despite his success elsewhere.
“I came over to Northland wanting to play Mitre 10 Cup, and with no contract back in Australia, I was open to any opportunities over here so certainly when the Chiefs came knocking I was excited to be a part of a New Zealand franchise”, Debreczini said.
Never say never, but you get the strong feeling that Debreczini is indifferent about his potential return to Australia one day in the future and is just focused on the here and now. This past weekend, Debreczini played his first match in Chiefs colours during a preseason hit out against the Blues, a match where the Chiefs were heavily beaten 43-10. Reflecting on that match and his time with the Chiefs so far, the outside back appears to be relishing taking on new challenges in a rugby country with more depth than any other.
“It’s a lot different environment to what I’ve had in the past, obviously the new systems have been quite refreshing so it’s been like starting new at school again”, Debreczini said. “I just want to put my best foot forward for the Chiefs and align my goals with the team goals. It’s a big challenge every week to try and make the 23, I’ve been mentally preparing to play in different positions and it’s certainly been great to have some of All Blacks back to learn about the midfield from”, Debreczini said.
Under yet another coach, Debreczini has caught the eye of Colin Cooper during the preseason, saying he is impressed with the level of experience Debreczini brings to the team.
“Jack has settled in really well but he still has a lot to learn about the structures, but the coach in me looks for experience and that’s something that he certainly has. It’s about him learning about our way, the Chiefs way, about going until we die essentially”, Cooper said.
With Marty McKenzie still three weeks away from returning to rugby following his hip surgery and Tiaan Falcon out for the season, it is likely that Debreczini will be backup first five to Damian McKenzie in the opening weeks of competition at least.
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