TJ Perenara: Making the most of his opportunities
TJ Perenara, even at only twenty years old, is capably filling the halfback slot left by Piri Weepu at the Hurricanes. Under normal circumstances a player like Perenara, whose full name is Thomas Tekanapu Rawakata Perenara, would have to fulfil a reasonable apprenticeship behind a much more senior player. However, TJ Perenara is part of a young group of players, particularly in the Hurricanes, taking New Zealand by storm. Many of these players were part of the victorious New Zealand Under 20s who dominated and won the 2011 U20 Junior World Championship.
This rugby profile on TJ Perenara is part of a series of Super Rugby Player Profiles as part of our 2012 Super Rugby coverage. These profiles highlight new talent that has burst onto the scene in the 2012 Super Rugby season.
TJ Perenara was born in Porirua, New Zealand on the 23rd of January, 1992. Both his parents, Thomas and Fiona Perenara, represented New Zealand in softball. He credits his parents’ example set in softball for the work ethic he has taken into his rugby career. However, it’s not just a good attitude he seems to have got from his parents, but good genes too. At 1.84 metres tall (6’ 1⁄2”) and weighing 94 kg (210 pounds), he certainly has the frame to play at the highest levels, even in only his first full year as professional. A hall mark of Perenara’s game in 2012 as been his acceleration and ball skills.
TJ Perenara: From Mana College to a Super Rugby Hat-Trick on Debut
Perenara attended Mana College in Porirua, Wellington. As a secondary school student he played for the Northern United senior rugby club side, with whom he won the Jubilee Cup final and took home the Jimmy Brown Medal for being the player of the final. Perenara debuted for Wellington against Southland in New Zealand’s ITM Cup in 2010, aged only 18. Shortly after he captained the New Zealand Secondary Schools team against an Australia Secondary Schools team.
The following year he won selection for the New Zealand Under 20s team that won the 2011 U20 Junior World Championship. The side featured with TJ Perenara as starting halfback partnered with Gareth Ancombe at number ten. Only a year later many of that side, including Brodie Retallick and Ben Tameifuna at the Chiefs and Perenara’s halves partner at the Hurricanes Beauden Barrett (the side’s fullback), are taking the 2012 Super Rugby by storm. It could be said that TJ Perenara announced his arrival in Super Rugby louder than any of them, scoring a hat-trick against the Western Force in his Super Rugby debut.
Perenara played a pivotal part in Wellington’s 2011 ITM Cup tournament, setting him up for the big workload he has had in the 2012 Super Rugby competition. In him and young flyhalf Beauden Barrett, the Hurricanes finally have the assured and talented halves combination they have always wanted. In the coming years as the pair grow into professional rugby players their combination will continue to improve as will their game sense. Should Piri Weepu wish to return to the Hurricanes he may find he has a fight on his hands to gain his number nine jersey back from TJ Perenara. In fact, his spot in the All Blacks may even be under threat from the younger halfback.