TJ Perenara in action for the New Zealand XV. Photosport
By Liam Napier in Cardiff
TJ Perenara has been recalled to the All Blacks for the first time in a year as the halfback rotation policy continues.
Perenara, the 30-year-old, 78-test veteran, started in a halves partnership with Damian McKenzie for the All Blacks XV in their commanding 47-19 win against Ireland A in Dublin last weekend but will now switch places with Brad Weber after he played 13 minutes off the bench for the All Blacks in their 55-23 victory in Cardiff.
Perenara last featured for the All Blacks when he started the defeat to Ireland in Dublin at this point last year. Perenara and Weber there then usurped by Finlay Christie and Folau Fakatava for the All Blacks squads in July and the Rugby Championship.
This week Perenara will compete with Aaron Smith and Christie for game time in the All Blacks next assignment against Scotland in Edinburgh on Monday morning (NZT).
All Blacks coach Ian Foster indicated he always intended to rotate Weber and Perenara in the three northern tests after Fakatava’s season-ending ACL injury.
“That was a predetermined plan to give both those nines a couple of weeks with us after Folau’s injury,” Foster said as the All Blacks departed Cardiff for Edinburgh, where they have eight days to prepare for Scotland.
The mix and match selections between the Leon MacDonald-led All Blacks XV and Foster’s main squad extends to Crusaders wing / midfielder Leicester Fainga’anuku joining Weber in being released for the All Blacks XV’s final tour match against the Scott Robertson-coached Barbarians at Twickenham .
Fainga’anuku missed the All Blacks win in Japan after remaining at home for personal reasons and hasn’t featured at test level since the second test loss to Ireland in July.
Midfielders Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Braydon Ennor have also re-joined the All Blacks after starting for MacDonald’s second-tier team last week.
Asked to assess their respective performances against Ireland A, after starting for the All Blacks in Japan the previous week, Foster said: “It was a different game to what we expected. We expected a lot tougher, more defense orientated game but it turned into quite an open game. We had to judge everyone’s performances based on that but it was good for them to get another hit out. ”