All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara may have had a career knockback after missing the call earlier in the year, but he was relishing his opportunity after joining the side in Edinburgh ahead of Monday’s Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Perenara never let his non-inclusion get him down. He understood it provided a chance to be involved in some teams he didn’t usually play in.
That included playing for the Māori All Blacks for the first time. Playing for his Norths club side, being coached by his father Thomas for the first time in a long time, and winning the Ranfurly Shield and Bunnings NPC title with the Wellington Lions.
Throughout it all, he went out to play and express himself and play a style of rugby he liked to play and being in winning environments was a boost.
But he said he was in the game for the journey, not the destination. That view was the product of maturity, and he remained grateful for everything professional rugby provided for him.
Life experience meant different things put rugby in perspective. Losing his All Blacks place this year was not the worst thing. He lost one of his best mates to a heart attack. Missing the All Blacks didn’t even compete with that, he said.
“As you get older, you go through life’s challenges, and it puts things in perspective.
“If you’re part of a team that plays well, you put yourself in a position to be called up into higher honours. If I wasn’t called back in, I was still enjoying the quality of football I was playing.
“I still want to improve and get better.”
Sharing Wellington’s Bunnings NPC triumph and winning and defending, the Ranfurly Shield meant the season had been special.
“With the squad we had, we knew we were good enough to be in contention if we played well. We didn’t start that well, but we knew with the experience in the group, and the talent within the young boys we had, if we could start clicking, we were going to give ourselves a good opportunity.
“We would have been disappointed if we weren’t battling for a championship at the backend of the season. To be in that position come playoffs, ranked first in our division, gave us a good run to the final.
“Three weeks out from the playoffs, we had that Ranfurly Shield challenge, then we had to defend it, and then we had to beat Counties Manukau [away] to secure the top spot. That gave us a good lead-in to the playoffs, so it was pretty much playoff games from that Ranfurly Shield game.
“The experiences we got as a group helped us. It was awesome to be part of a really good group of boys, and I look forward to some of those boys’ futures, not only in that jersey but in higher honours too.”
He cherished achieving what they did with some of his rugby mates like Julian Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi and Billy Proctor.
The desire to play in next year’s Rugby World Cup was still burning, and he said it was something every rugby player aspired to do.
Playing Scotland, if selected, would be special. They had been playing well in recent years, and in their last two games against the All Blacks, the margins had been eight points and five, so playing in Edinburgh had been difficult.
“We understand the threats that they have. They’re a very good team both with and without the ball. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We know we played well against Wales but for us to be where we want to be we have to continue to improve.”
Restored to the side on the back of an impressive effort for the All Blacks XV against Ireland A, Perenara said it had been frustrating having to watch the All Blacks struggle during the earlier part of their programme.
Not being able to contribute by being in the environment was the biggest factor, whether that was in the playing XV or not.
“I love where this group has gotten to, I love where we’re heading to, so it was hard not being there, but I am excited about being here now.”
The All Blacks were also excited by what the Black Ferns have achieved in their Rugby World Cup.
“The growth in that team has been inspiring. I know they had some tough times last year, but they’ve come together, united, and they’ve grown so much.
“The footy they are playing is something we all can be proud of as New Zealanders and fans of rugby and we’re looking forward to seeing them go to battle at the weekend.”
Perenara said he would watch the women’s Rugby World Cup final and acknowledged Kendra Cocksedge’s last Test for the side.
“She’s a legend of the game, not only here in New Zealand but in world rugby. She can be proud of the impact she’s had on women’s rugby and on rugby itself. It will take a little for her to reflect on it to see how impactful she has been to the game of rugby and, especially, our young wāhine in New Zealand.
“The legacy she is going to leave is amazing. There’s going to be kids talking about her for a long time,” he said.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.