All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara could be saddling up for a switch to the NRL, according to reports from New Zealand.
1 News are reporting that the former Hurricanes halfback is considering a move that would take him to the Sydney Roosters. His agent – Warren Alcock – told the outlet that: “We are talking to NZR and other parties that have approached us” and that the 29-year-old is “seriously considering it”.
Capped 69 times by New Zealand, Pernara is currently playing his rugby for NTT Red Hurricanes in the Japan Top League, a league known for the frenetic pace of its rugby if somewhat optional tackling.
Union to league switches, having once been common during union’s amateur era, have become relatively rare in modern times.
The speculation comes following calls for him to be culled from the All Black set-up. Former All Black John Kirwan has urged the NZR to not re-sign Perenara, branding him a player in the “twilight of his career”.
Kirwan suggested money would be better spent on younger players, such as injured Highlanders star Folau Fakatava.
“You can’t re-sign Perenara. You cannot re-sign him,” Kirwan said. “I love the man, don’t get me wrong, but who do you want to keep?”
He added: “I think there’s some young guys coming through and, for the next World Cup, I just think, ‘Look, I’d love to sign him, but if it was a case of signing a couple of younger guys that are gonna get us to the next World Cup, as good and on further, then I just think he’s gonna be [left out]’.
“We’re talking about the World Cup and going forward, right? So, if you think about TJ, he’s been a great servant of the game, he’s getting to the twilight of his career, and, for me, there’s guys who are starting to stack up that are going to give us another two World Cups.
“TJ should be signed, yeah, but at some stage, you’ve got to [weigh up your options].”
Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee said a switch to the 13-man code isn’t far-fetched for league-loving nine: “He loves rugby league – it’s not really [a] surprise, when you’ve been in and around professional rugby for a while you know it’s a pretty fluid process. There’s always other teams involved, if there’s a rugby league team involved well that’s just another team. I’m not too worried about that, we’ve just got to do our best for TJ. Knowing he loves the team is a significant factor.”
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