Blues in Japan: Perofeta locks eyes on 10 jersey
Stephen Perofeta is looking forward to pitting his wits against unknown opposition with the Blues when they run out against two Japanese opponents, Suntory Sungoliath in Tokyo and Canon Eagles in Yokohama over the next two weekends.
Perofeta, who has played three Tests, including his debut starting Test in Tokyo, and 52 games for the Blues since debuting in 2017, said it was still pre-season for them to play in Japan, but it was a good chance to play for the first time in three or four months, blow the cobwebs out, and see where he was at.
"It's been two months [in pre-season], and we're itching not to beat each other up anymore and to be able to put it on another team.
"The Japanese, they'll be seasoned and battle-hardened, so it's a good time for us to see where we're at."
Perofeta said it had been a good pre-season working on the systems the new coach Vern Cotter had introduced, and they were looking forward to two weeks in Japan.
Cotter wants the players to drive the team, and that was a growth area Perofeta was looking to develop.
Your team heading to the land of the rising sun ☀️ pic.twitter.com/0ciFyY7bfr— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) January 30, 2024
He's one of the contenders for the first five-eighths' role in the side.
In Beauden Barrett's absence, Perofeta is looking to utilise what he had learned working with Barrett in the past two seasons.
"It's a massive opportunity for me and anyone fighting for that 10 jersey. It's never a given, and I know I've got to earn it, and I know it is there for the taking."
Leading the team tactically was something that has grown in his career.
"It's something I've taken on board and it's a role that I look forward to."
Preparing to play in Japan had resulted in a lift in intensity and competitive edge, and there was also the chance to run their plays against new opposition instead of teammates who knew what they would do at training.
While they would play sides with a different style, the number of international players included would ensure a good test of their fitness and preparedness for the Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Blues squad is: Josh Beehre, Adrian Choat, Sam Darry, Kurt Eklund, Joshua Fusitu'a, Akira Ioane, Jordan Lay, Laghlan McWhannell, Dalton Papali'i, Marcel Renata, Ricky Riccitelli, Rob Rush, Anton Segner, PJ Sheck, Hoskins Sotutu, Cameron Suafoa, Angus Ta'avao, James Thompson, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Soane Vikena; Kade Banks, Lucas Cashmore, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Corey Evans, Cole Forbes, Taufa Funaki, Leo Gordon, Meihana Grindlay, Rieko Ioane, AJ Lam, Sam Nock, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer, Zarn Sullivan, Caleb Tangitau, Mark Tele'a.