Perenara relishing being back in the All Blacks

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Perenara never let his non-inclusion get him down. He understood it provided a chance to be involved in some teams he didn't usually play in.

That included playing for the Māori All Blacks for the first time. Playing for his Norths club side, being coached by his father Thomas for the first time in a long time, and winning the Ranfurly Shield and Bunnings NPC title with the Wellington Lions.

Throughout it all, he went out to play and express himself and play a style of rugby he liked to play and being in winning environments was a boost.

But he said he was in the game for the journey, not the destination. That view was the product of maturity, and he remained grateful for everything professional rugby provided for him.

Life experience meant different things put rugby in perspective. Losing his All Blacks place this year was not the worst thing. He lost one of his best mates to a heart attack. Missing the All Blacks didn't even compete with that, he said.

"As you get older, you go through life's challenges, and it puts things in perspective.

"If you're part of a team that plays well, you put yourself in a position to be called up into higher honours. If I wasn't called back in, I was still enjoying the quality of football I was playing.


"I still want to improve and get better."

Sharing Wellington's Bunnings NPC triumph and winning and defending, the Ranfurly Shield meant the season had been special.

"With the squad we had, we knew we were good enough to be in contention if we played well. We didn't start that well, but we knew with the experience in the group, and the talent within the young boys we had, if we could start clicking, we were going to give ourselves a good opportunity.

"We would have been disappointed if we weren't battling for a championship at the backend of the season. To be in that position come playoffs, ranked first in our division, gave us a good run to the final.

"Three weeks out from the playoffs, we had that Ranfurly Shield challenge, then we had to defend it, and then we had to beat Counties Manukau [away] to secure the top spot. That gave us a good lead-in to the playoffs, so it was pretty much playoff games from that Ranfurly Shield game.

"The experiences we got as a group helped us. It was awesome to be part of a really good group of boys, and I look forward to some of those boys' futures, not only in that jersey but in higher honours too."

He cherished achieving what they did with some of his rugby mates like Julian Savea, Du'Plessis Kirifi and Billy Proctor.

The desire to play in next year's Rugby World Cup was still burning, and he said it was something every rugby player aspired to do.

Playing Scotland, if selected, would be special. They had been playing well in recent years, and in their last two games against the All Blacks, the margins had been eight points and five, so playing in Edinburgh had been difficult.

"We understand the threats that they have. They're a very good team both with and without the ball. We're looking forward to the challenge. We know we played well against Wales but for us to be where we want to be we have to continue to improve."


Restored to the side on the back of an impressive effort for the All Blacks XV against Ireland A, Perenara said it had been frustrating having to watch the All Blacks struggle during the earlier part of their programme.

Not being able to contribute by being in the environment was the biggest factor, whether that was in the playing XV or not.

"I love where this group has gotten to, I love where we're heading to, so it was hard not being there, but I am excited about being here now."

The All Blacks were also excited by what the Black Ferns have achieved in their Rugby World Cup.

"The growth in that team has been inspiring. I know they had some tough times last year, but they've come together, united, and they've grown so much.

"The footy they are playing is something we all can be proud of as New Zealanders and fans of rugby and we're looking forward to seeing them go to battle at the weekend."

Perenara said he would watch the women's Rugby World Cup final and acknowledged Kendra Cocksedge's last Test for the side.

"She's a legend of the game, not only here in New Zealand but in world rugby. She can be proud of the impact she's had on women's rugby and on rugby itself. It will take a little for her to reflect on it to see how impactful she has been to the game of rugby and, especially, our young wāhine in New Zealand.

"The legacy she is going to leave is amazing. There's going to be kids talking about her for a long time," he said.


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