TJ Perenara injury opens the door for youngster’s All Blacks debut as another rookie called up

David Skippers
TJ Perenara and Cortez Ratima image.jpg

All Blacks scrum-halves TJ Perenara and Cortez Ratima.

The All Blacks have announced that veteran scrum-half TJ Perenara has been ruled out of their upcoming Test against England at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

The 32-year-old suffered a knee injury during the latter stages of the opening half of Saturday’s first game against the Red Rose in Dunedin when All Blacks skipper Scott Barrett fell on his leg after being cleaned out at a ruck.

First Test in 20 months

It was the latest injury setback for Perenara, who was playing in his first Test in 20 months. This, after he sustained a ruptured Achilles during the All Blacks’ end-of-year tour in 2022 and during his time on the sidelines he went under the knife twice to repair that injury.

A post on the All Blacks’ official X (formerly Twitter) page confirmed that Perenara will miss the second Test against England and that Crusaders scrum-half Noah Hotham has been called up as a replacement.

“Following scans, we are seeking specialist advice on return to play timeframes. He will be unavailable for selection for the second Test against England, Noah Hotham has been called into the squad as cover,” the statement read.

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Meanwhile, All Blacks assistant coach Jason Holland revealed that Perenara could still be available for selection for the All Blacks’ Test against Fiji in San Diego on July 19.

“It looked pretty nasty when it happened but he’s better than expected,” said Holland. “We’re waiting on a specialist to determine exact return to play dates but hopefully it’s not too long.”

Finlay Christie came on as a replacement for Perenara at the start of the second half in Saturday’s opening Test against England, which the All Blacks won 16-15.

Christie should be elevated to the run-on side for this weekend’s clash at Eden Park – a venue where the All Blacks have been unbeaten in 48 consecutive Tests stretching back to 1994 – with Cortez Ratima expected to make his international debut off the replacements bench.

Ratima backed to shine

Holland said Ratima had “been awesome for the last two and a half weeks” and, after the 23-year-old shone for the Chiefs in Super Rugby Pacific, the former Hurricanes head coach expects him to make the step up to Test level.

“He’s diligent, making sure he’s all over everything, and he’ll be in a space, where if he works really hard during the week, which I know he will, he’ll be ready to go,” he added.

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