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All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara confirms ‘genuine’ interest in NRL move to Roosters

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TJ Perenara of in action for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes against the Panasonic Wild Knights in Osaka, Japan, last month.

Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

TJ Perenara of in action for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes against the Panasonic Wild Knights in Osaka, Japan, last month.

TJ Perenara has confirmed that he has a real interest in making a cross-code switch to the Roosters in the NRL, and has had direct talks with Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

“It’s definitely genuine from both parties,” Perenara said from Japan on Tuesday evening. “It’s something that would be a challenge but it’s something that I’ve thought about throughout the course of my career.

“I played league when I was a little bit younger. In contract years I’ve often thought about it.

“I feel the game for a hooker suits the style of game I like to play, even knowing that there will be more tackles in league.

“There’s no decision yet. There’s a few options on the table but I haven’t made a decision.

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* NRL: Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson confirms interest in All Black TJ Perenara
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* ‘He’d be a fantastic league player’: Brad Weber backs TJ Perenara’s mooted NRL move

“I wanted to make a conscious decision to focus on the games at hand [in Japan].”

The All Blacks halfback is starring in the Japan’s Top League competition, where he has guided the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes into a quarterfinal match against Kieran Read’s Toyota Verblitz in a fortnight’s time.

But there has been intense debate about his future after Robinson confirmed the NRL glamour club was trying to sign him.

The Hurricanes have stated they want to re-sign the 29-year-old, whose leadership and competitive nature has been badly missed during their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.

JRFU

Japan coach Jamie Joseph discusses the strength of the Top League compared to Super Rugby Aotearoa and how a global test calendar is essential for Japan’s development.

The Hurricanes have only won one game so far and Perenara said it had been “hard” watching the side go through a number of close losses.

“The boys are working hard … so to see us the wrong end of some close games, and if a few of our games go our way we’re looking at a different season….

“The quality of football is so high that games are being decided by two three four points.

“[But] It does hurt not to be with the lads.”

Perenara also said he was prepared for the extra tackling that a stint in the NRL would necessitate, although he didn’t see the physical demands as the biggest challenge.

“I understand that there will be some physical conditioning things I will have to adapt to be successful in league as well,” he said.

“I think it will take it some time getting used to. But I don’t think it would be the biggest challenge.

“It would be coming into a team late in the years and trying to gel with players to win championship. That would be the biggest time constraint.

“It’s that relationship building that’ll be crucial.”

TJ Perenara clears the ball for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes against the Canon Eagles in February.

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

TJ Perenara clears the ball for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes against the Canon Eagles in February.

Perenara confirmed that even if he does sign for the Roosters this year, he could also sign for the Hurricanes and New Zealand Rugby in 2022-2023 to take him through to the Rugby World Cup in France.

Another option is to sign for the Roosters in 2021 and then return to Japan next year.

Meanwhile, Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick, also speaking from Japan on Tuesday, confirmed they would play no part in the upcoming Super Rugby trans-Tasman competition, which is due to start on May 14.

Barrett is playing for Suntory in Japan’s Top League, while Retallick is the second and final year of his deal with Kobe.

The Top League season finishes on May 23, but the players have to go through two weeks of quarantine upon their return to New Zealand, meaning that there would be too little time for them to return for the Blues and Chiefs, respectively.

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