All Blacks boss Ian Foster hits out at TJ Perenara's NRL flirtation
Perenara was a notable inclusion in Foster’s Rugby Championship squad that was announced on Monday after having spent the first half of the year on sabbatical in Japan with Top League club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
Now back in New Zealand, the 29-year-old has been included in the All Blacks squad for their upcoming tests against the Wallabies, Springboks and Los Pumas.
Perenara’s return to the national squad hasn’t come without drama, though, as the 69-test veteran made headlines in April when it was revealed he was talks with the NRL’s Sydney Roosters.
Off-contract with New Zealand Rugby [NZR] at the end of 2021, Perenara was believed to be seriously considering a move to the 13-man game before eventually re-signing with NZR through until the end of 2023 in May.
Speaking to Stuff in the wake of his Rugby Championship squad announcement, Foster said he was pleased to have Perenara back in the All Blacks after a contractual technicality denied him the chance to play against Tonga and Fiji this month.
However, Foster expressed discontent at the way in which Perenara’s negotiation business unfolded in the public domain.
“I didn’t really know whether TJ was serious with the NRL or not,” Foster said on Monday.
“I wasn’t personally over-impressed that that played out publicly; I made that point to him, I didn’t like the senior All Black coming out and saying he was thinking of leaving.
“That’s all part of the negotiation ploy I guess, but ultimately he’s back.”
Perenara’s return to the All Blacks squad has led to the exclusion of rookie halfback Finlay Christie, who made his first two test appearances against Tonga and Fiji in recent weeks.
Foster said the decision to omit Christie from the squad was a difficult one given how much the Blues star had impressed in his two cameo outings.
The All Blacks have named a 36-man squad featuring the return of many key players ahead of next month’s Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship series. #AllBlacks #BledisloeCup #RugbyChampionshiphttps://t.co/uedZ2Bfeg3
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 18, 2021
But, with Perenara set to be gradually reintroduced to test rugby via club and provincial rugby, Christie will remain involved with the All Blacks in the short-term as a replacement player.
“I was really impressed with him with the two outings he [Christie had with us],” Foster told Stuff.
“He really did everything we asked of him – and the fact we can still bring him in as cover while TJ plays for Wellington, probably in that round one, gives us great confidence in Finlay.
“He’s a guy we’re going to keep around with us because we think he’s got a big future.”
The All Blacks will assemble for a two-day camp in Christchurch next week before coming together in Auckland again the following week ahead of their first Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park on August 7.
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