2015 Rugby World Cup-winning All Black TJ Perenara could swap rugby union for rugby league after being approached to further his career in the NRL, according to New Zealand media reports.
The scrum-half, who represented the Hurricanes between 2012 and 2020, is currently on a short-term deal with Japanese Top League outfit NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes.
Off contract at the end of 2021
He will be off contract with New Zealand Rugby at the end of this year. With his sabbatical set to conclude when the Japanese club season finishes in May, it means the 29-year-old would be expected to return to play for the All Blacks later this year.
But Perenara could be lost to the 15-man code to further his career with NRL outfit the Sydney Roosters, who according to reports contacted his agent Warren Alcock.
“We are talking to NZR and other parties that have approached us,” Alcock told TVNZ.
The Roosters are reportedly keen to use Perenara as a hooker as they are currently in the midst of a crisis in that area.
Earlier in the week, All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan said New Zealand Rugby should not re-sign Perenara, a 69-Test veteran, when he returns from Japan.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee told NZME he contacted Perenara last week in an attempt to re-sign him.
“I had a long Zoom call with him and his manager and spoke about the Hurricanes and the All Blacks,” he said. “We didn’t talk about rugby league, just talked about the Hurricanes and obviously we’re keen to get him home. He said he’s keen to be a Hurricane and be an All Black again.
“He’s got choices and if there is truth to the Roosters rumour then obviously he’s more than able to have that conversation, so we only control our conversation with TJ and we know how much he loves the Hurricanes.
“If he comes home and is playing anywhere near what he normally would then he’ll be in the All Blacks as well at Rugby World Cup 2023.”
Lee admitted he wasn’t surprised to see the report which links Perenara to rugby league and said they must do their best to give him the best offer to return to New Zealand Rugby.
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“You’re never confident in these conversations because you just don’t know what’s driving someone at this particular time, but I’m pretty confident – I know what we need to do to get TJ home but it doesn’t surprise me there might be interest from other sports or at least rugby league.
“He loves rugby league – it’s not really a surprise, when you’ve been in and around professional rugby for a while you know it’s a pretty fluid process. There’s always other teams involved, if there’s a rugby league team involved well that’s just another team. I’m not too worried about that, we’ve just got to do our best for TJ. Knowing he loves the team is a significant factor.”