Former All Blacks wing Sir John Kirwan has put the heat on NZ Rugby to not renew test halfback TJ Perenaras contract.
Kirwan, speaking on Sky Sports Breakdown show, said he was of the belief that NZ Rugby could save money by not re-signing All Black Perenara beyond this year and instead rely on the likes of veteran Aaron Smith, Brad Weber and the uncapped Folau Fakatava to be the All Blacks No 9 options leading into the 2023 World Cup in France.
All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara has played 69 tests but Sir John Kirwan says NZ Rugby shouldnt re-sign him beyond this year.
Perenara took a calculated risk when he chose to take a sabbatical to play for Japanese Top League club the Red Hurricanes, rather than help the Hurricanes win a maiden Super Rugby Aotearoa title in 2021.
Perenara, who will return to New Zealand after the Japanese season, is contracted with NZ Rugby until the end of this year and had been the Hurricanes co-captain until his departure.
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Since his test debut against England in Auckland in 2014, Perenara, 29, has played 69 tests for the All Blacks but started just 17.
Long considered the perfect foil for Smith, Perenara played in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups; his toughness, and willingness to carry the ball into heavy traffic around the ruck fringes have been the hallmark of his game and when he announced he would play in Japan he said it didnt mean his days in New Zealand were numbered.
NZ Rugby has also indicated it would be keen to negotiate a fresh contract with the Wellington provincial player.
Sir John Kirwan had some forthright views on TJ Perenara’s future with NZ Rugby.
Kirwan, however, wasnt convinced NZ Rugby should shell out big money for him.
You can’t re-sign Perenara, Kirwan said on Sky Sport’s Breakdown.
You cannot re-sign him. I love the man, don’t get me wrong. But who do you want to keep?
Because I think there’s some young guys coming through and for the next World Cup I just think [they need to focus on developing them].
Look, I’d loved to sign him but if it was a case of signing a couple of young guys that are going to get us to the next World Cup, as good and on further, then I think he’s going to be [omitted].
Dianne Manson/Getty Images
Folau Fakatava is recovering from a serious knee injury but could push for a place in the All Blacks ahead of the 2023 World Cup.
In addition to Smith, Weber and Fakatava – who is currently recovering from a serious knee injury and is unlikely to play again this year – Bryn Hall, Mitchell Drummond and Findlay Christie have been among those nipping at the heels of the All Blacks incumbents.
Perenara, given his experience, is likely to ask for a big salary if he does ask for a contract extension but NZ Rugby could be tempted to put their money into a number of younger No 9s as they plan for the next global tournament and beyond.
Chiefs captain Brad Weber has been playing well at halfback this year.
Last year Smith, widely regarded as one of the best halfbacks in the world, retained his ranking as the best No 9 for the All Blacks. Perenara, despite the performances of the in-form Brad Weber, was considered the next best option for the big tests.
Yet Kirwan reckoned it was time for NZ Rugby to make a tough call and tell Perenara it isnt prepared to pay big dollars for him.
If you think about TJ, he’s been a great servant of the game, [but] he’s getting into the twilight of his career, Kirwan added.
Hannah Peters/Getty Images
TJ Perenara of the All Blacks runs on to the field ahead of the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies in Auckland on October 18.
And for me, there are guys that are starting to stack up that are going to give us another two World Cups.”
The Red Hurricanes, who sit third in their conference in the Top League, have a 4-2 record.
Their next game is against the Kobelco Steelers.
Kobe have All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden on their roster.