TJ Perenara joins All Blacks as two players sent to play for B-team
TJ Perenara has earned an All Blacks reprieve and could feature for the New Zealand national side against Scotland this weekend.
The 31-year-old halfback showcased all his strengths for the All Blacks XV in Friday night’s 47-19 win over Ireland A in Dublin and has been called into the top squad for the final two weeks of their end-of-year tour.
Speaking to media the morning after New Zealand’s 55-23 victory over Wales, coach Ian Foster revealed that after losing Folau Fakatava to an ACL injury, the plan was always to bring both Perenara and Brad Weber into camp. With Weber coming in ahead of the Cardiff Test and getting a dozen minutes off the pine at the Principality Stadium, it’s now Perenara’s turn to spend time with the squad.
“We’re bringing TJ over to us to replace Brad,” Foster said. “That was a pre-determined plan to give both those 9s a couple of weeks with us after Folau’s injury.”
Foster noted that they performed strongly as a combination for the All Blacks XV, having first played together the week prior in Japan. Young utility back Leicester Fainga’anuku, on the other hand, is heading the other way and will have a chance to showcase his skills for the All Blacks XV against the Barbarians on Saturday.
“It was a different game probably to what we expected,” he said of the B-team’s inaugural fixture. “We expected a lot tougher, more defence-oriented game up there but it turned into quite an open game so we had to judge everyone’s performances based on that. It was good for them to get a hit-out.
“[Tuivasa-Sheck and Ennor] came back yesterday morning. They’ve returned, they’ll be with us now. So we’re just utilising that programme as a chance to, like I said at the time we released them, get another game in the midfield. They now come back with us and Leicester obviously missed the Japan game so it’s a chance for him to go and get some rugby this week then he’ll come back and join us.”
Somewhat surprisingly, the likes of fringe All Blacks Stephen Perofeta, Mark Telea and Billy Harmon will remain with the squad – perhaps suggesting that they will get chances to take the field against Scotland this weekend.
Both the All Blacks and All Blacks XV will be playing at the same time on Saturday afternoon, with the first team kicking off their Murrayfield match at 2:15pm GMT and the All Blacks XV playing at 2 o’clock.
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