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Hurricanes dealt injury blow as TJ Perenara set for sideline spell

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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The Hurricanes will begin their 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign without TJ Perenara after the veteran halfback sustained a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for about a month.

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Perenara was this week spotted donning a knee brace at the Hurricanes’ temporary home base in Queenstown, and head coach Jason Holland confirmed on Friday that the 78-test international had suffered an MCL injury.

“Teej [Perenara] had a really innocuous accident on Tuesday at training, took a little knock and twisted his knee. He’s going to be out for about a month or so,” Holland said.

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The loss of Perenara leaves the Hurricanes without their most experienced halfback for at least the first few weeks of the new competition, which begins for the Wellington franchise against the Crusaders in Dunedin next Saturday.

Following that match, the Hurricanes then have to face the Blues, who are considered title favourites alongside the Crusaders, in Queenstown before they take on Highlanders in Dunedin and Moana Pasifika in Wellington.

Holland will be hopeful about Perenara’s chances of returning to action for his side’s bout with Moana Pasifika on March 12, but the Hurricanes boss has full faith in the squad’s other halfbacks to fill his void.

Who exactly will replace Perenara, who hasn’t played for the Hurricanes since 2020 after joining the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes on a season-long sabbatical in Japan last year, remains to be seen, but there is no shortage of options.

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Leading the charge to replace Perenara is injury returnee Jamie Booth, who has been named to start for the Hurricanes in their final pre-season match of the year against the Crusaders in Arrowtown on Saturday.

The match acts as his first for the Hurricanes since 2020 after he broke his leg badly while playing for Manawatu two years ago.

However, the nippy 27-year-old faces stern competition from others who have been drafted into the Hurricanes set-up as injury cover.

The unavailability of young halfback Cam Roigard has allowed the likes of Richard Judd, Logan Henry and Leroy Carter all to enter the fray, with the latter two both named in the reserves for the pre-season clash against the Crusaders.

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“There’s still a little bit to learn tomorrow [against the Crusaders],” Holland said of who is in line to replace Perenara as the first-choice halfback for the opening weeks of the season.

“Obviously Jamie Booth is starting tomorrow and he’s been out for a period of time, so it’s his first 40 minutes back tomorrow.

“Logan Henry from Manawatu has come in and been awesome in our environment. We’ve got Richard Judd, and we’ve actually got Leroy Carter in here from sevens who has been outstanding in our environment too, so we’ve got four No 9s there.

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow and make the call then, but all really capable guys that have had a good spell of pre-season with us and really clear around what we’re trying to achieve.”

Holland confirmed the remainder of the squad’s All BlacksArdie Savea, Jordie Barrett, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua and Tyrel Lomax – will be available for selection come round one.

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