Made for League All Black confirms plans to switch
Wallaby great Will Genia believes if any Test scrumhalf can make a successful transition to Rugby League it is TJ Perenara, who is in talks with the Sydney Roosters.
Speaking from Japan, where Perenara is also playing, Genia felt the All Black ace was made for Rugby League.
Perenara, 29, is looking to link with the Roosters late next month as a hooker, after a spate of injuries in the position.
Genia said he’d spoken to the 69-Test veteran and that he genuinely wanted to test himself in the NRL, dependent on his NZ Rugby contract and playing future in Japan.
“He’s very, very keen but it’s just a case more if it’s going to align with his contractual obligations,” Genia told AAP.
“I’d love to see him do it – see one of us in a play-making position go across to see how we do.”
Genia, who made 110 appearances for the Wallabies, predicted Perenara would be a hit.
“If I had to choose one scrumhalf to go across who I thought would make it, it would be him out of all scrumhalves playing the game,” Genia said.
“I think he will do really, really well.
“The way he plays the game in union transfers very easily across to League.
“He loves the physicality, he got an excellent pass – he’s a very good running scrumhalf when he gets out and tests the defenders in and around the ruck and plays people into space.”
He said the rules of rugby League would suit Perenara, with the defensive line 10 metres back as opposed to behind the feet of player at the back of the ruck.
“As a scrumhalf in union we like getting out and scooting out of the ruck but we do that with the defence sitting right on top of us and in League you’ve got the defence sitting back 10 metres,” Genia said.
“He’s going to have more time and more space to make decisions because he’s been so used to the defence playing right on top of him.”
Much has been made about a League hooker making up to 10 times the amount of tackles of a rugby scrumhalf, and Genia conceded that could be Perenara’s weakness.
But he said that the Kiwi never shirked the tough stuff.
“He enjoys the defensive side of the game, so I think he will navigate that transition quite well,” Genia said.
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* Meanwhile Perenara says he’s deadly serious about considering a spectacular cross-code move to the Sydney Roosters, revealing he’s harboured a dream to play in the NRL for years.
The All Blacks World Cup winner says he’s won’t make a decision until his Japanese Top League commitments with the Red Hurricanes are finished next month.
But the 29-year-old said “there’s a few different scenarios on the table” after speaking directly with Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
The most likely scenario is taking up a mid-season short-term deal with the Roosters before returning the Hurricanes in New Zealand Super Rugby next year.
“I would be doing the club and the boys that I’ve worked hard with an injustice by focusing on anything else besides our games coming up,” Perenara said from Osaka.
There’s a notion that Perenara could be angling for a better deal from New Zealand rugby but the 66-Test scrumhalf said he honestly believed he could be a success at hooker for the Roosters as a replacement for recently retired co-captain Jake Friend.
“It’s definitely genuine from both parties as well,” Perenara said.
“It’s something that would be a challenge and something that I’ve thought about throughout the course of my career.
“I’ve played League when I was a little bit younger so in contract years I’ve often thought about it but never engaged in conversations to the extent we’re at now.
“I feel the game for a hooker suits the style of game that I like to play already in rugby.
“Knowing, though, that there is more tackles to be made in League and going back and forth 10 metres [in defence] – the fitness – getting up and off the deck is a little but more in rugby League compared than it is in rugby.
“So I understand there will be some physical conditioning side of things that I will have to adapt to, but I do think I can be successful in League as well.”
The thought of having to make 40 tackles a game doesn’t faze Perenara at all.
“It will take some getting used to. I don’t think it’s something I could walk into tomorrow and be able to do without noticing the difference,” he said.
“I’ll have to put a lot of time and effort into doing but it’s not something that I think would be the biggest challenge going to the game – the physical side of it.
“Entering a team later in the year and trying to gel with players to win a championship, that will be the biggest time constraint.
“Physically, we can put in all the work we need to do on the training field but it’s that relationship building that will be the big one.”
Perenara said if he didn’t make the switch to League this year with the Roosters, he would likely never cross codes.
* Interview courtesy of @JRFURugby