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'Honestly grateful for every moment': Perenara 'ready' if called upon for All Blacks

By Finn Morton
(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Halfback TJ Perenara believes he’s “ready” to bring his unique approach to rugby back to the Test arena if called upon to play against Scotland on Monday morning (NZT).

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The Test veteran has been left in international wilderness this year, after being overlooked for the national team in favour of up-and-coming stars Finlay Christie and Folau Fakatava.

While he was overlooked and is still yet to don the famous black jersey this year, Perenara has still had an incredible season.

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Perenara made his debut for the Maori All Blacks earlier this year, was coached by his dad at his club Norths, won the NPC title with the Wellington Lions and played for the All Blacks XV.

But now that he’s back in the mix for international selection, the “high-energy player” said he’d “look forward” to playing for the All Blacks if given the chance.

“If I do get an opportunity to play a Test for the All Blacks it’d be something I’m ready for, something I look forward to,” Perenara said in a video shared to the All Blacks’ YouTube page.

“I hope I bring some energy, it’s how I play the game, I’m a high-energy player. I play with a lot of passion and I wear my heart on my sleeve.

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“Defensively I really enjoy the defensive side of the game and having an impact on the defensive side of the ball, so to be able to do that as a nine is something I really look forward to.

“Just being in these arenas before, I’ve been in Test matches before so that experience is something that I’ll call upon if I’m given that opportunity.

“The big ones the passion that I bring, the energy that I bring, and then the defensive side of the ball.”

The Rugby World Cup winner, and veteran of more than 75 Test matches, adds some valuable experience to an All Blacks side who has had a difficult 2022 season.

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While the team is currently on a five-Test winning streak, they struggled to find some consistency for a majority of the year, which included losses in historic Tests in New Zealand against Ireland and Argentina.

Perenara said that while it was “disappointing” to miss out on All Blacks selection so far this year, the scrum half has still enjoyed the journey he’s been on as a rugby player.

“It’s a little bit disappointing not being part of those teams earlier on in the year but my focus isn’t so much on destinations, it’s the journeys that we have as footy players,” he said.

“Everyone’s journeys different and my journey was different to what I thought it was going to be at the start of the year, but I want to cherish every part of it because once it’s all said and done, I think we’re going to look back and wish we had any part of our journey again.

“It’s something that has taken me a little bit of time and a little bit of growing up to realise but I’m honestly grateful for every moment that I have while I’m playing professional rugby.”

Following their dominant 55-23 win over Wales last weekend, New Zealand rugby fans will be eager to see how the All Blacks fare against Scotland at Murrayfield.

But the Black Ferns are also set to run out to the hallowed turf of Eden Park this weekend in a blockbuster World Cup final against World No. 1 England.

New Zealand faced their toughest test in their semi-final against France, and reminiscent of the All Blacks’ triumph over France 11 years earlier they recorded a one-point win – but it doesn’t get any easier this week.

“Everyone’s really excited to watch out girls go to work.

“The growth in that team has been inspiring not only for me as an individual but for our team. I know they had some tough times last year but they’ve come together, they’ve united, and they’ve grown so much.

“The footy that they’re playing out on the field is something we can all be proud of as New Zealanders and fans of rugby, and we’re looking forward to seeing them go to battle on the weekend.”

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