Recovery, Rivalry, and Redemption: TJ Perenara's Comeback Story
Recovering from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the 25-25 draw with England at the end of 2022, halfback TJ Perenara has signalled that regaining his All Blacks jersey is his long-term goal.
But first, he wants to build on his 70 per cent recovery to get on the field and play good rugby for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Pacific.
"I set my goals broad for a year, then narrow them down to my short-term goals. My short-term goal is to get back and do full-team training.
"When I come to that point, and I'm team-training and looking to start playing again, those goals start to adapt."
Perenara said he hoped to see more improvement in his leg when the Hurricanes return to training after the holiday break.
He knew he had to play good rugby to achieve his goals.
"You have to be out on the field, you have to be having an impact on your team, and winning really helps too. All those elements will be a part of those goals and those standards."
He said he thought he had been kicked in the back of his leg when the injury occurred in the late stages of the All Blacks' draw with England at Twickenham.
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"I turned around, and Hoskins [Sotutu] was there. I had a go at him. He said, 'I didn't touch you'."
A potential impediment to his plans is the emergence, in his absence, of Cameron Roigard.
Perenara said Roigard enjoyed a fantastic season by taking his chance in Perenara's absence to stake his claim for Rugby World Cup selection. He was among the top-performing halfbacks in New Zealand and the world.
Perenara said his approach was for the pair to compete among themselves to be the two best halfbacks in the country.
"To have that dynamic working together, whatever that looks like out on the field is important for us winning this competition."
Some might try to paint their relationship negatively, but it would be competitive.
"Both of us want to play big minutes which is a good thing. Both of us want the other person to be playing really well, too."