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TJ Perenara on losing Cam Roigard and his battle with Cortez Ratima

By Ben Smith
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes breaks away for a try during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Chiefs at Sky Stadium, on April 13, 2024, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

TJ Perenara squared off against Chiefs upstart Cortez Ratima in a battle of potential All Black halfbacks as the Hurricanes maintained an undefeated 7-0 record.

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The two halfbacks starred for their respective sides with Perenara grabbing two tries to equal the Super Rugby record while Ratima scored one himself on a fortuitous piece of lead-up play.

But the veteran No 9 got the better of his younger rival a couple of times, pressuring at the breakdown and sacking the Chiefs’ passer.

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Perenara revealed that the Hurricanes’ preparation highlighted opportunities to turn the Chiefs’ aggressive ruck work against them.

“Yeah well Tez has been a big part of their offense this year, he’s got them on the front foot. He’s got the ability to see space and attack it,” Perenara told Sky Sport NZ.

“He’s shown this competition why he’s so good. Just the way they clean rucks, they are very physical, they are aggressive at ruck time, and sometimes it can be exposed.

“If there were opportunities throughout the game that we had prepped for, and getting a couple of them tonight was cool.”

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Perenara was also busy on attack, back to some of his best form with rapid recycles to target the Chiefs on short sides. His running game threatened the Chiefs ruck fringes all night.

Ruck Speed

0-3 secs
54%
48%
3-6 secs
28%
39%
6+ secs
16%
8%
86
Rucks Won
84

The Hurricanes’ halfback took advantage of short numbers in the second half to free second five-eighth Jordie Barrett down the right hand side which led to a key try to Kini Naholo with the game in the balance.

Earlier a quick recycle by Devan Flanders and brilliant offloading by the backs found Perenara back on the inside for his second of the night and record-equalling 62nd Super Rugby try.

The prolific try-scorer is locked in an ongoing battle with former teammate and Moana Pasifika’s midfielder Julian Savea for the record and he wasn’t going to wait around to let him know about drawing level again, saying “he’s probably got 45 seconds to a minute as I get into the changing room.”

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Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Hurricanes
36 - 23
Full-time
Chiefs
All Stats and Data

“It’s awesome,” he said of his try scoring form this season with four from five games.

“The first one the forwards will be a little bit angry at me, they won about four or five scrum penalties, Braydon picked and go and I just pushed it over. They’ll give me some stick for that one,” he said.

“To score is fun, we play this game to score points, to score tries and when you get an opportunity to do so it feels pretty good.”

Perenara has been a revelation on his return from a long injury layoff which came at an opportune time with Cam Roigard suffering a serious knee injury against the Highlanders.

Despite being competitors fighting for the same role, Perenara was open about losing his All Black teammate which has “hurt” the team.

“Losing Cam hurts our team, hurts the way we want to play to an extent,” he said.

“He’s a hell of a player, the way he can impact a game, especially with the ball in hand, its pretty freakish to be honest.

“To lose him from our team, definitely hurts but my opportunity to come in, stamp my mark on how I want to play, how I want to impact our team, and winning in our environment, today was a good step in the right direction.”

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