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'The best hooker in the competition': Hurricanes and All Blacks stars back TJ Perenara's potential NRL move

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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A number of TJ Perenara’s Hurricanes and All Blacks teammates have backed the halfback’s potential move to the NRL.

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1 News reported on Thursday that Perenara, who is off-contract with New Zealand Rugby [NZR] this year, is “seriously considering” a shift to the Sydney Roosters to help answer the club’s shortage of hookers following the retirement of Jake Friend.

The 29-year-old’s agent Warren Alcock told 1 News he and his client, who is currently in Japan on a sabbatical deal with Top League club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, “are talking to NZR and other parties that have approached us”.

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Perenara would hardly be the first player to jump between rugby union and rugby league, and one of his teammates who has plied his trade in both sports has led the charge in voicing his support of a possible code switch.

All Blacks midfielder Ngani Laumape, who played 30 times for the New Zealand Warriors before becoming Perenara’s Hurricanes teammate five years ago, said the 69-test halfback has all the traits required to make him one of the best hookers in the NRL.

“If this is real news, he would be the best hooker in the competition [sic] No doubt,” Laumape said of Perenara on his Twitter account.

“The man smashes forwards in rugby and imagine his left foot out of dummy half kicking them 40/20.”

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Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea, who has played alongside Perenara at the Wellington-based franchise since 2013, backed up Laumape’s claims in a reply to the midfielder’s tweet.

“Oath @Tj_Perenara hardest working man I know,” Savea, who was the subject of cross-code speculation last year, said.

Chiefs co-captain and fellow halfback Brad Weber, meanwhile, said on Friday that Perenara would flourish as a No 9 in rugby league.

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“I’d be gutted to lose him from rugby,” Weber said of his All Blacks teammate. “I’ve battled it out with TJ since we were 17, and first and foremost he’s a good friend of mine.

“We’re in the same position and competing against other, so some people might think it’s a bit different of me, but I’d love for him to stick around, he brings the best out of me personally, and I love having him in the All Blacks environment when I’m there.

“But I am a big rugby league fan as well. You see a lot of the leaguies come over to union, and, the type of player he is, he’d be a fantastic league player, so I’d love to see him go over there and carve up as well. So, I sort of have a foot in both camps, I guess.”

Weber added that Perenara has proven in union that he would handle the defensive demands that come with being a league hooker, and that while he is a Warriors supporter, he may have to switch allegiance should his teammate make the switch.

“TJ’s never shied away from defensive stuff, and in fact he’s probably been the best defensive nine in the world once Tawera [Kerr-Barlow] left.

“He puts shots on the biggest forwards and the biggest backs in the game. So I think he’d actually really enjoy the traffic coming down his way.

“We’d certainly be cheering him on. I’m a big Warriors fan, but, geez, I’d have to become a Roosters fan if he went there.”

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'The best hooker in the competition': Hurricanes and All Blacks stars back TJ Perenara's potential NRL move

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