TJ Perenara. Photo by Getty
Don't bother trying to float the second-season syndrome
theory to Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara.
The 21-year-old doesn't buy into the belief that after a
rookie excels in their first season they are on course for a
lull in their next.
Perenara was one of the finds of the Super Rugby competition
last year before an ankle injury in a mid-season friendly
against the Reds in June ruled him out for the remainder of
But he is now raring to go and will begin the season in the
No 9 jumper for the Hurricanes when they host the Blues at
Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
He said he had heard a few whispers about the dreaded
"I think it's all down to the individual," he said. "If the
individual thinks about it and lets it curse them then I
guess it will. But I don't think it is a curse, some people
just play badly in their second season. I don't think anyone
tries to play badly, but it's definitely not on my mind and I
will just hopefully get out there and do the job for the
Perenara and first-five Beauden Barrett were arguably the
most exciting inside back combination in the competition last
year but they were an unknown quantity before the season got
That won't apply this year, though, with Barrett having made
his All Black debut last year there will be plenty of footage
for teams to analyse.
Perenara played in all three of the Hurricanes' pre-season
games and said there was a different air about Barrett's play
"He's a lot more of a leader. He's always sort of been a
leader but now he's got so much more knowledge than he had
last year. He's brought everything he's learned last year
with the All Blacks into our team and he's not shy to use
that and teach people stuff.
"The best thing about Beauds is he's not cocky. He doesn't
think he's better than anyone else. He's learned something
and he's prepared to teach other people that so it's only
good for us."
The Hurricanes have experienced little player turnover from
last year's squad and have been able to name a near
first-choice backline for Saturday's game with only Cory Jane
unavailable due to a season-ending knee injury suffered three
"It's always good having regular players in," Perenara said.
"You get a good relationship between players where you can
find continuity and get to know each other and get to know
each other's running lines, how each other plays when they're
under pressure and how they react. So the more time we can
spend with the same group of guys the better it is."
Flying fullback Andre Taylor looks primed to set the Cake Tin
alight again this year, while the Hurricanes have an
ultra-reliable midfield in the form of Tim Bateman and Conrad
Smith, with Julian Savea and Alapati Leiua keen to patrol the
While the Hurricanes have built up their combinations during
the past year, the Blues backline features positional shifts,
new recruits and a debutant.
Halfback Piri Weepu will play his 100th Super Rugby game this
weekend, while wing Frank Halai will make his maiden
appearance in the competition.
First-five Chris Noakes has been picked to run the cutter for
the Blues, while Rene Ranger will play at centre after making
a name for himself on the wing previously.
Hurricanes: Hurricanes: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad
Smith (captain), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett,
TJ Perenara; Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Victor Vito, Jason
Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks.
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili
Levave, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Reynold Lee-Lo
Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Francis
Saili, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu; Peter Saili,
Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick,
Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves:
Jackson Willison, Baden Kerr, Bryn Hall, Brendon O'Connor,
Liaki Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Quentin MacDonald.