ACT Brumbies winger Chance Peni leaves league behind for Wallabies opportunity
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ACT Brumbies winger Chance Peni leaves league behind for Wallabies opportunity

Chance Peni grew up on an island of just 600 people, moved to New Zealand as a teenager and played rugby league until last year, but the ACT Brumbies flyer has his sights on Wallabies gold.

Peni is prepared to take small steps to reach his World Cup goal next year and is desperate for more action when the Brumbies play the Queensland Reds on Friday night.

Winger Chance Peni has been recruited to bolster the Brumbies attack options.

Winger Chance Peni has been recruited to bolster the Brumbies attack options.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Brumbies recruited the former Western Force winger to add X-factor to their back line this season.

He scored four tries in seven games for the Force and committed his international rugby future to Australia before injury struck and ruined his debut campaign.

But it did little to squash his desire to play for the Wallabies and he's keen to show coach Michael Cheika he can make the step to the Test arena.

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"I played for New Zealand in junior rugby league and it is part of my culture ... of course we grew up wanting to play for the All Blacks," Peni said.

"But I've been in Australia now for so long and I didn't hesitate about the Wallabies. It wasn't a big drama for me, I made my decision and I'm happy with that.

"I definitely want to have a chat to [Cheika] to see if I can push my way in. Any international rugby is definitely a goal of mine."

Cheika will likely blood more new Wallabies this year after having 27 players make their debut since the last World Cup.

Peni grew up on Chatham Island - about 800 kilometres east of New Zealand - before his family relocated and then moved to Perth.

He was scouted to rugby league by the Newcastle Knights, played for the junior New Zealand side, signed a two-year deal with the Wests Tigers and played for the Cook Islands in their rugby league World Cup qualifiers in 2015.

Deep down he always wanted to return to rugby and got his chance at the Force before linking with the Brumbies.

He will partner Henry Speight on the wings as the Brumbies attempt to unlock their back line try-scoring potential this season.

They scored five tries to beat the Japan Sunwolves 32-25 last week, but never hit top gear with the ball in hand.

"Hopefully I can get the ball and show what I've got," Peni said.

"It's definitely going to be a test this weekend against the Reds. Hopefully we see a lot more ball, but as long as we're winning I'm happy to do whatever."

The Brumbies have one of the most stable back lines in Super Rugby, with Christian Lealiifano and Peni the only new faces to the starting side that ended last season.

"The combinations we're working with and trying to play with ... they're getting there. We just need to do more of it under pressure," Lealiifano said.

"We've got attacking flair out wide, guys like Tevita [Kuridrani] who can dent the line and Henry and Chance. So we've got to work off them and hopefully pop up there. It will click, hopefully sooner rather than later."

SUPER RUGBY ROUND THREE

Friday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.

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Brumbies: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Chance Peni, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Isi Naisarani, 7. Tom Cusack, 6. Lachlan McCaffrey, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Lolo Fakaosilea, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Wharenui Hawera, 23. Lausii Taliauli.

Reds: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13. Samu Kerevi, 12. Duncan Paia'aua, 11. Eto Nabuli, 10. Jono Lance, 9. James Tuttle, 8. Caleb Timu, 7. Liam Wright, 6. Adam Korczyk, 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Izack Rodda, 3. Taniela Tupou, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1. James Slipper. Reserves: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. JP Smith, 18. Sef Fa'agase, 19. Harry Hockings, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Hamish Stewart, 23. Filipo Daugunu.