Perenara ready to re-fire for Hurricanes
February 21, 2013
TJ Perenara was a revelation for the Hurricanes last season, but he's a known talent now. © Getty Images
TJ Perenara doesn't buy into the theory of 'second-season syndrome' but acknowledges he and several of his Hurricanes' team-mates will get closer attention from the opposition this Super Rugby season.
The scrum-half had an outstanding debut campaign for the Hurricanes in 2012, where he went from being a virtual unknown to coach Mark Hammett's preferred choice. So good was his form he was being talked about as a potential All Black bolter for the end of season tour until a nasty ankle injury in June ended his year prematurely.
This year opposition players will know more about his game - when he likes to kick, when he looks to carry the ball himself - and he will need to adapt to that accordingly. History has shown that is something other players right across Super Rugby have struggled to do in the past.
"I think it's all down to the individual. If the individual thinks about it and lets it curse them then I guess it will," the 21-year-old said. "I don't think it is a curse. Some people just play bad in their second season. It's definitely not on my mind at the moment."
But he accepts more people will know more about him - and others such as All Black fly-half Beauden Barrett - which will bring an added pressure.
"But it's not a pressure I don't want," Perenara added. "Last year I was more afraid of the unknown than anything. Now I know what to expect and I'm more prepared for it. Yeah, there might be a little bit more pressure but I'm also more prepared."
Saturday's season opener against the Blues in Wellington will be his first competitive match since breaking and dislocating his ankle during a friendly match against the Queensland Reds in last year's June break.
Perenara has overcome some "dark patches" during his lengthy rehabilitation and admitted there were times he worried he would not get back to being the player he was at the time of the injury.
"I've never been injured for that amount of time before. I honestly thought 'am I not going to be able to pass anymore? Am I not going to be able to kick anymore'? That did run through my head. But getting the ball back in my hands it just felt like second nature again," Perenara said. "Obviously little things were out of whack, a little bit of timing and that and I threw a few bad passes, but the more I've done it the easier it's become again."
Perenara will line-up against good friend and mentor Piri Weepu on Saturday as the All Blacks halfback, and former Hurricane, celebrates 100 games of Super Rugby.
"He's helped me a lot throughout my career so to be a part of something that's so big for him is an honour for me as well," Perenara said.
The Blues are in a similar position to one the Hurricanes were in last year following some big-name departures, the signing of some promising young players and the arrival of Sir John Kirwan as coach. But Perenara has been impressed by what he has seen from them in pre-season.
"They are big boys. They are physical. They are aggressive and they look fit as well," he said. "They've got all the characteristics of a good team. It'll be awesome to see our team against them. It will be a good test for us."
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