If you think TJ Perenara’s code switch is nothing but an attempt to get more money out of New Zealand Rugby, think again.
Premiership winner Brandon Smith has revealed the All Blacks halfback has been sounding him out since February in attempt to learn how NRL hookers prepare.
“He messages a bloke like myself in February and he was saying he was going to make the code switch,” Smith said on Sunday Night with Matty Johns on Fox League.
“He was asking how does he physically and mentally prep his body. He was asking me to send him clips of [Penrith hooker] Api Koroisau to learn deception around the ruck.
“He’s someone who’s already been around professional sport for so long, asking somebody like me – a nobody – it’s awesome. It just shows he’s got a lot of respect for the game of rugby league. He messages us every game we play about who went well and stuff and he’s a great supporter of it and it can only be good for the game.”
Watch The 2021 NRL Telstra Premiership Live & On-Demand with No Ad-Breaks During Play. New to Kayo? > Get your 14-day free trial now & start streaming instantly >
A report last week from 1 News in New Zealand claimed Perenara, who has 69 caps for the All Blacks and was a member of their 2015 World Cup success, is “seriously considering” the code switch.
The Sydney Morning Heraldlater reported the Roosters were preparing to table a cut-price $130,000 deal to lure Perenara to the club to help the injury crisis engulfiing the club following Jake Friend’s retirement due to concussion.
Injuries to hooker options Sam Verrills, Freddy Lussick, Adam Keighran, Lachlan Lam and halves star Luke Keary have left the Roosters desperately short of experience and class.
While Perenara hasn’t played league, he rejected an offer to join the Storm as a 15-year-old after a group of teenagers from Wellington were led by former Kiwis international John Lomax to the club.
CASUALTY WARD: All the latest injuries from Round 6 of the NRL season
Perenara — a tryscoring machine for the Hurricanes and one of the best on-ball halfbacks in rugby — would have the skill-set required to make the switch. He is one of rugby’s most physical halfbacks and has also regularly slotted into flyhalf (halfback in league).
His potential code switch was backed by Smith, who helped the Storm to the NRL premiership in 2020 as a hooker/back-rower.
“I think he’d be really good,” Smith said.
“He’s a massive talker, that’s what I’ve heard from [world’s best rugby halfback] Aaron Smith and he’s also really good at organising the boys around him. In rugby league, as a hooker, that’s a great trait to have.
“He’s got a mentality of a champion, he’s been an All Black for years and years.”
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
The Roosters have a number of former Australian Schoolboy rugby sensations in their squad, with Luke Keary, Angus Crichton and Joseph Suaalii playing the game at junior level.
Roosters head coach Trent Robinson has brought on former Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika and French international playmaker Frederic Michalak into the system over the past 14 months.
Current Wallabies assistants Scott Wisemantel (attack) and Matt Taylor (defence) joined the Roosters in the pre-season too.
Two-time World Cup-winning All Black Sonny Bill Williams also answered an SOS to re-join the club last year.
Johns said the decision by Robinson to tap into resources from their rugby cousin was another example of the master coach being ahead of the game.
“It shows how good the Roosters are at thinking outside the box,” Johns said.
“On their coaching staff right now, they’ve got one of the greatest French rugby union fly-halfs, Frederic Michalak, he’s on the staff at the Roosters.”
MORE NRL NEWS
3 BIG HITS: Holmes answers critics with class, Bulldogs halves leave Barrett fuming
3 BIG HITS: Cronk’s big praise for Eels’ main man; Ricky laments selection ‘stuff up’
BRUTAL: Ricky’s ‘cold, hard truth’ for Raiders stars who ‘think they’re NRL players