Last year they gave Sonny Bill Williams a SOS, now the Roosters are in talks to sign All Blacks World Cup-winner TJ Perenara to fill the void left by Jake Friend.
A report from 1 NEWS in New Zealand said Perenara is “seriously considering” the code switch, with the halfback uncontracted beyond 2021.
The 29-year-old, who played 69 Tests for the All Blacks and featured at two World Cup campaigns, left Super Rugby last year to take up a short-term contract with Japanese Top League team Red Hurricanes.
He is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021 and said late last year his Japanese sabbatical “doesn’t mean it’s the end for me” in New Zealand.
But life after Perenara has already begun and there are a number of young No.9s on the rise across the ditch despite playing five of six Tests for the All Blacks last year.
While Perenara’s agent Warren Alcock said they remain in talks with NZR, it’s understood the Roosters are primed to snare him.
“We are talking to NZR and other parties that have approached us,” Alcock told 1 NEWS.
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Last week the Roosters lost club great Friend, who retired because of concussion.
It’s understood the NRL powerhouse haven’t filled their 30 player list and so the All Black could be brought in immediately. The Japanese Top League season concludes on May 23.
Perenara is one of the best defensive halfbacks in rugby and is strong over the ball, but he slotted in at flyhalf at times for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby.
In 2019, Perenara’s diving effort against Namibia in the World Cup was voted World Rugby try of the year.
His father, Thomas, was a Junior Kiwi and played alongside Kiwis great Kevin Iro. His first cousin, Henry, is an NRL referee.
As a 15-year-old, Perenara travelled to Melbourne with a group of Wellington teenagers, led by former Kiwis international John Lomax. He was offered a contract with the Storm but did not sign.
The Roosters have a strong rugby influence, with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in his second year at the NRL club where he works on a part-time basis. He is good friends with Roosters coach Trent Robinson, with the two coaching masters sitting together at the SCG to watch the Waratahs and Brumbies earlier this month.
Former French playmaker Frederic Michalak is also working at the Roosters.
Injured Roosters star Luke Keary told foxsports.com.au on the eve of the season Michalak had been warmly embraced at the club.
Perenara is close with Williams, who won a premiership with the Roosters in 2013 and made a controversial return late last season after leaving the Toronto Wolfpack, and played alongside the dual international at two World Cup campaigns.
Last year, another All Blacks star, Ardie Savea, said he was considering a switch to the NRL and nominated the Roosters and Melbourne Storm as clubs of interest.
The Roosters did not respond to calls.
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