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Stephen Perofeta on what he thought of his 50-second All Blacks debut

By Ben Smith
Stephen Perofeta of New Zealand runs with the ball during the international test match between Japan and New Zealand All Blacks at National Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

Stephen Perofeta was one of eight All Blacks debutants in 2022 but his memorable experience lasted just 50 seconds after being substituted into the Test in the dying stages against Argentina in Christchurch.


The decision to hand Perofeta a debut was criticised in some corners, with many questioning the logic behind putting him into the action without a lot of time to be involved.

The All Blacks were down 25-18, which remained the full-time score, as Los Pumas pulled off a historic first win on New Zealand soil.

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The Blues playmaker has reflected on the night speaking on the You Decide Podcast and shared his philosophical outlook on his debut which he enjoyed and is using it as motivation.

“In my mind, I didn’t want to feed it doubt,” Perofeta explained on the You Decide Podcast.

“I just wanted to get out there and be free. That’s when I’m enjoying it, that’s when I’m at my best.

“As soon as I’m like ‘don’t do this’, that little voice in your head telling you, ‘you can’t’, that’s when I crumble.


“So for me, yeah it was 50 seconds but I got out there and just tried to enjoy every second.

“If I got longer, or if I didn’t even get on, I was still going to enjoy every moment.”

Perofeta explained that the emotion behind becoming an All Black was something that drives him for more.

The 50 seconds on the field was only one part of the equation, with the preparation in the lead-up as part of the gameday 23 all part of the debut experience.

“The lead-up for it was huge too,” he explained.

“It was different from every other week because prior to when I got named, I was training to prepare them, because I wasn’t getting picked.


“My job was to do the moves so that they are prepared for what the opposition are going to bring.

“But this week was different because I was actually in there. I had to know all our roles, all our stuff.

“To actually run out onto that field in front of a packed crowd, sing the national anthem for the first time. I had to close my eyes because I was going to cry, and just breathe.

“But that 50 seconds, I look at things to take something from it.

“Yeah it was 50 seconds but it is going to keep the flame burning, you know it is going to keep it going.

“Because I want more. It doesn’t finish there.”

Perofeta won two more caps in 2022, his first start as an All Black at fullback against Japan in a 38-31 win and he featured in another bench cameo against Scotland at Murrayfield on the end of year tour.

The 26-year-old didn’t feature in 2023 as the All Blacks narrowed the squad down for the Rugby World Cup, but the first five has every chance to earn more caps under new head coach Scott Robertson.

Perofeta played under the former Crusaders coach when he was in charge of the New Zealand U20 in 2016.

With Richie Mo’unga departing for Japan and Beauden Barrett yet to confirm a new NZR contract, competition is open for the All Blacks’ first five role heading into 2024.


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