Chiefs star expresses admiration for All Blacks veteran ahead of crunch clash

David Skippers
Cortez Ratima and TJ Perenara image.jpg

Chiefs scrum-half Cortez Ratima and Hurricanes counterpart TJ Perenara.

Chiefs scrum-half Cortez Ratima is looking forward to the challenge of going head-to-head against All Blacks and Hurricanes veteran TJ Perenara in Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific semi-final in Wellington.

As the team who finished in top spot on the table at the end of the tournament’s regular season, the Hurricanes will be favourites to be victorious on their home turf against the men from Hamilton.

However, the Chiefs will be quietly confident of causing an upset against their hosts and Ratima will be at the forefront of the men from Hamilton’s attacking onslaught.

Similar in style to Perenara

After serving as former All Black Brad Weber’s understudy in 2022 and 2023, Ratima is now firmly entrenched as the Chiefs’ first choice number nine and his style of play has been likened to Perenara’s.

Like Perenara, the 23-year-old has a combative approach with a keen eye for the try-line and the Chiefs scrum-half has already scored eight tries this season – one more than Perenara.

Despite being rivals on Saturday, Ratima is a huge admirer of the 80-Test veteran and expects to have a friendly chat with his rival after their play-off clash on Saturday.

“I have had a few yarns to him post-game [in the past]. He’s a good fella, man,” Ratima told Stuff. “He gets around us young guys. He’s a real good fellow to talk to, even around personal life and stuff like that.

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“He’s been real good.”

Ratima revealed that he is not particularly fond of talking to opponents ahead of games but has no problem with doing that once the dust has settled afterwards, regardless of the end result.

He said that would definitely be the case with Perenara after their showdown this weekend.

“No, not particularly before [games] or on the field. I just try to keep to myself and my team, and worry about my own role,” he said. “But I will definitely have a yarn to him after the game.”

Remembers Weber’s influence

Although Weber has left the Chiefs to join Top 14 outfit Stade Francais, he played a huge role in improving Ratima’s game and he remembers how the ex-All Black always kept his composure during stressful situations.

“His experience was probably the biggest thing,” said Ratima. “Being able to sit there, listen to him, especially in huddles and stuff like that.

“The way he spoke to the boys, the way he was able to, in pressure moments, to calm himself to speak in a normal tone. And not let his emotions get the best of him.”

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