'He'll be here': Hurricanes provide update on TJ Perenara's availability and Ruben Love's injury return
All Blacks star TJ Perenara hasn’t returned to the Hurricanes set-up just yet, but assistant coach Cory Jane says he wouldn’t be surprised to see him involved with the franchise in the closing weeks of the season.
After guiding the Red Hurricanes to a quarter-final finish in the Japanese domestic campaign, Perenara has underwent his mandatory two-week quarantine period upon his return to New Zealand and is now back at his Wellington home.
Although he has returned to his homeland, Perenara revealed earlier this month that, unlike others who took sabbaticals in Japan such as Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick, he is ineligible to play for the All Blacks until he plays domestically within New Zealand.
“I think the rules are you have to play in the New Zealand competition, professional competition, to be eligible – unless you have it written into your contract,” he told the What a Lad podcast after re-signing with New Zealand Rugby until 2023.
“I didn’t have it written into my contract to come back, so I didn’t write that into anything. I have to play in a competition before being eligible for the All Blacks.
“If I do come in as injury cover [for the Hurricanes], I guess it might [change], but if not, I don’t think so.”
That call to return to the Hurricanes set-up as injury cover hasn’t come yet, but Jane told media he sensed the 69-test All Black will be involved with the franchise in the last few weeks of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
“I don’t know, but you’ll hear him if he does roll in,” Jane told reporters on Monday when asked if Perenara had been with the team at all since exiting his managed isolation facility.
“I think there’s nothing established for [him coming back as] part of the team, but I reckon he’ll be here at some stage.
“He’ll be sitting in the stand or behind the bush there trying to chip away at something, but, yeah, he’s not here at the moment.”
One player who is more likely to be involved in the Hurricanes’ penultimate round-robin match of the year this weekend is exciting youngster Ruben Love.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 31, 2021
The 20-year-old playmaker hasn’t been sighted since he left the field with a head injury in the opening minutes of his side’s 64-48 thumping of the Waratahs in Sydney two-and-a-half weeks ago.
“He’s good. He was in the gym. That’s all I’ve really seen. We haven’t had any trainings, so he’s been in the gym. He looks fine.
“He’s a tough kid to kind of understand because he just gives you the poker face, so you don’t really know what he’s about, but he seems better than what he did last week and I don’t think he was too far off last week, so we’ll see what happens when we get into a bit of rugby.”
In saying that, Jane is wary of thrusting Love into the thick of things too early after the New Zealand U20 representative’s concussion recovery.
“I think you’ve got to be smart. You put the players’ interest at the front [of your decisions]. I kind of know. I was playing and I was banged up all the time, but I was always going to say, ‘Yeah, I was fine’, to the coaches,” Jane said.
“So I understand that a lot of guys are going to say yes, but you’ve just got to be smart because you don’t want a guy to go out there, especially a young one who’s got a niggle, and then not have the best game.
“That would ruin his confidence, so you’ve got to be a bit clever around it.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 31, 2021
A bonus point win for the Hurricanes at GIO Stadium this weekend will keep them in the hunt for the inaugural Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title.
The Wellington-based franchise retained their top two spot on the competition standings following their 43-6 drubbing of the Western Force in Napier on Friday.
However, with two more regular season matches against the Brumbies and Reds, the two Super Rugby AU finalists, to play, there is still plenty of work for the Hurricanes to do to ensure they take part in the June 19 final.
“I think we were a bit better in understanding what Aussie teams bring compared to New Zealand teams,” Jane said of the improvements his side have made in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
“I think the Waratahs game, we got found out how fast they play off 9. Very direct, strong runners compared to New Zealand teams, who are a little bit different, more unstructured, so we got beaten up there.
“Rebels game, we weren’t as bad, a bit better, and then obviously, on the weekend, we were a bit better too, but we’ve got the Brumbies.
“They’re very direct, very big, and they’ve got backs that can plays, so if we don’t put them under pressure, we’ll be under pressure.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now