Dave Porecki is “the most well-rounded hooker in Australian rugby, with strength at the scrum and accuracy at the lineout added to a mobile, high work rate style.” Porecki is also a late bloomer, one who ventured overseas on a four-month deal in search of experience and development, returned home five years later, and won national honours at the ripe old age of 29.
A Manly junior, Porecki first came to notice in 2014 when he played for the North Harbour Rays in the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship. A year later, and on a “petrol-money contract” at the Waratahs, Porecki spent his rookie provincial season having “my head shoved up my ar*e by Tatafu (Polota-Nau) at scrum training”. He made one brief appearance - a tick over two minutes - off the bench against the Cheetahs in 2015 before an opportunity emerged in the U.K. Porecki landed a short-term, Rugby World Cup-cover deal at English premiership giant Saracens. Porecki later admitted that upon arrival he was no certainty to “hit a barn door” with his lineout throws. However, given that he was English qualified, the club called in England lineout guru Simon Hardy to help. “He had me throw some balls and after 15-20, he came up to me and gave me pretty much what I wanted to hear, which was, ‘You’re sh*t, but this is how we are going to make you better’,” Porecki recalled. Hardy used a broomstick on Porceki’s chest to enforce an upright stance and boxing gloves to hone technique.
In 2016, Porecki departed to London Irish and in his first season was part of the side that defeated Yorkshire Carnegie in the RFU Championship play-off final to win promotion back to the Premiership. Under Hardy’s continued coaching, and with George Skivington as Irish forwards coach, Porecki’s development blossomed. “For me it was beautiful, the game revolves around scrum, lineout, maul, physicality and it was exactly where I needed to be to develop,” Porecki later said.
In 2019, and with two long-term deals in England on the table, Porecki asked for two weeks grace to gauge interest back home. Fortunately, RA director of rugby Scott Johnson was a big fan and, “on the night of the last day, they sent through an offer.” Porecki returned to the Waratahs in 2020 where his quality was immediately evident. A calf injury ruled him out of the 2021 international season before he made his debut in the first Test of the 2022 home series against England.
2022 Porecki won his first Test cap at hooker between Allan Ala’alatoa and Angus Bell, in the first Test, 30-28 victory over England in Perth. He played 10 Tests over the course of the year, two of which came as a replacement. Concussion protocols saw him miss both away Tests against Argentina and the late win over Wales in Cardiff while he was rested against Italy in Florence.