Perenara staying grounded
Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara hasn't had too much time to dwell on his selection in the All Blacks wider training group with the Investec Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs looming.
Prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen and loose forward Brad Shields were also part of the uncapped contingent, while Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith and Victor Vito were expected inclusions.
But a short turnaround following the team's return from South Africa means any celebrations have been put on hold.
"All the boys who got named know the first job is the Chiefs," said Perenara.
"We've made the training squad which is an awesome achievement but we've got our season to focus on as well.
"We need to knock over the Chiefs in order to get us in a better position on the table."
Perenara was one of four halfbacks named for the two All Black camps that will take place on May 19-21 and May 26-28.
He will get his chance to pit himself against another of those – Tawera Kerr-Barlow – at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.
Kerr-Barlow made his All Blacks debut against Scotland on last year's end of season tour, but has only just returned from a broken jaw which has kept him out of Super Rugby for six weeks.
"I definitely enjoy playing all the top halfbacks," said Perenara. "It's nice playing against the likes of Piri [Weepu], Tawera, Aaron Smith and Andy Ellis.
"It's never easy but it's always good seeing where you sit with the best."
Perenara had set his sights on an All Black spot last year until a nasty broken ankle curtailed his Super Rugby season and left him short of games in the ITM Cup to prove himself to Steve Hansen.
Instead he had to watch as Kerr-Barlow joined Weepu and Smith on tour and his challenge before Hansen names his squad for the three-Test series against France will be to oust one of those three.
"Tawera definitely played very well last year. I think it would have been close again. He deserved to go last year I think," said Perenara. "But I'm definitely happy that I've been called into the squad.
"I haven't been playing the best footy that I think I can play. But it's obviously been enough. I do know I need to play better if I want to go any further."
He believes his biggest work-on is his decision-making around the ruck.
"I've been a bit fidgety around there," the 21-year-old admitted. "I've been doing a few bad passes and running when it's probably not on.
"Getting out of our exit zone in our 22 we've been punished there a few times and that does come down to nines making a decision when to run and when to kick."