TJ Perenara opens up on 'challenging' decision facing All Blacks ahead of Rugby Championship
All Blacks players will have to leave their families behind for up to 10 weeks, including quarantine periods, to play in the Rugby Championship set to be played in New South Wales after the All Blacks’ first two tests of the year against the Wallabies in New Zealand next month. A third Bledisloe test will also be played in Queensland ahead of the four-team tournament.
Speaking after Wellington’s convincing 39-21 victory over Auckland on Sunday, a frank Perenara said it would be difficult to leave his wife and newborn daughter, as well as his Mitre 10 Cup side, to play for the All Blacks.
“Leaving will be hard for a number of reasons,” Perenara said. “Getting amongst te kapa ? raiona (roughly translated to ‘the group of lions’) for the last couple of weeks has been awesome. Built some great friendships within the environment and then also leaving my wife and baby for the next little while will be hard.”
Perenara and his wife Greer welcomed their first baby daughter last month. Several other All Blacks also face the prospect of leaving their young families to play across the Tasman.
“It will have its challenges,” Perenara added. “It’s not an easy situation for anyone regardless if you have families or not.
“But leaving my wife and my young daughter will be a difficult situation, although I am excited about the opportunity to be in the All Blacks environment. It’s always an honour and a privilege to be selected in that team and be in that environment with the best players in the world.”
Perenara’s All Blacks teammate Richie Mo’unga, who also welcomed his first child last month, has already hit out at a suggestion from one media outlet that some All Blacks were considering pulling out of this year’s Rugby Championship for family reasons.
Beauden Barrett, who is expecting his first child with wife Hannah, also addressed the issue but wasn’t definitive about his availability either, saying there’s still “a lot of water to go under the bridge” around the Rugby Championship.
As All Blacks say goodbye to their Mitre 10 Cup sides to prepare for the Bledisloe Cup this week, Perenara said getting back into the team environment will be a good chance to have discussions about leaving their young families for a long period.
“Now that we go into All Blacks camps it’s a really good period to have those discussions as a family, those discussions as a team within the All Blacks environment to develop those skills to make sure that all the boys who have been in a similar situation have the tools and the support systems around us to make sure the transition or that period of time is as easy as possible,” he said.
“It’s not going to be easy, it’s simple as that, but make sure it’s as easy as possible. That’s what I think this next little while is going to be really important to build those strategies.”
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Meanwhile, Peranara also spoke about the “pressure” he puts on himself while playing with the Wellington Lions, saying it’s similar to the intensity of an All Blacks test.
“Personally I think playing club rugby to playing a test match, to me, I feel the same pressure. Media might build hype, there might be hype within a game it might be a final or a big game, but I genuinely believe the pressure I put on myself outweighs the pressure you guys can put on me.
“The pressure a game can put on me because I expect to play good each and every game regardless of what’s on the line.
“If it’s a pre-season game for Norths or a World Cup final, my expectations for myself to perform at the highest level each and every time is the same.”
Wellington bounced back from their disappointing defeat to Waikato on the first week of the Mitre 10 Cup to claim an impressive win over Auckland over the weekend.
However, the provincial sides will have to continue without their All Blacks stars as Ian Foster’s men gather in Whakat?ne today to begin preparation for their first test against the Wallabies.
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