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TJ Perenara summoned back into All Blacks as injury strikes

By Tom Vinicombe
TJ Perenara celebrates with Beauden Barrett. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

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Despite initially being released to play provincial rugby for Wellington this weekend, an injury in the All Blacks camp has seen TJ Perenara quickly recalled back into the national squad.

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Perenara’s contract with New Zealand Rugby finished last year and the former Hurricanes captain spent the formative part of 2021 representing the NTT Red Hurricanes in Japan’s Top League.

While he signed a new contract with NZR in May, Perenara wasn’t eligible to represent the All Blacks during their recent Pasifika series due to not playing Super Rugby earlier in the year (and not operating under a sabbatical arrangement, like Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick).

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Dave Rennie and Michael Hooper spoke to the media ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks.

As such, Blues tyro Finlay Christie earned an All Blacks call-up and made two appearances off the bench in July.

Having signed to play for Wellington in the NPC, Perenara became eligible for The Rugby Championship and has been recalled for the upcoming tests at the expense of Christie.

Given Perenara’s recent lack of game time, however, he was always expected to make his return to NZ rugby with Wellington and was named to start at halfback in their clash with Northland on Saturday, with Christie joining the All Blacks camp as cover.

It’s likely that the 29-year-old won’t be available for the Lions now, however, with Christie injuring his shoulder during training on Thursday and Perenara rejoining the squad.

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Aaron Smith and Brad Weber have been named as the halfbacks for Saturday’s clash with the Wallabies but, should either one of them catch Christie’s bad luck, Perenara could be in line to make a surprise return to the national team, far sooner than expected.

The extent of Christie’s injury is yet unknown and is currently being assessed by the All Blacks’ medical staff.

Should he remain unavailable indefinitely, the All Blacks could consider bringing in another halfback such as Mitchell Drummond, who played a single test match against Japan in 2018.

Otherwise, Perenara may have to make his return to the field in the tough cauldron is test rugby.

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Perenara last played for the All Blacks in the latter stages of 2020, coming off the bench in New Zealand’s 38-0 win over Argentina.

His new contract means he’ll remain in NZ until at least the end of 2023, when the All Blacks will travel to France to try and reclaim the World Cup after ceding it to South Africa in 2019.

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TJ Perenara summoned back into All Blacks as injury strikes

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