From his vegan diet to his rugby league connections

Who is TJ Perenara: Ten things you should know about  the All Black

A regular in the All Blacks squad since 2014, scrum-half TJ Perenara also leads New Zealand’s haka before Tests.

Ten things you should know about TJ Perenara

1. Thomas Tekanapu Rawakata Perenara, was born in Porirua, near Wellington on 23 January 1992. He comes from a sporting family, father Thomas played for New Zealand rugby league U20 and mother Fiona played international softball.

2. Scrum-half Perenara attended Mana College in Porirua and whilst there played for New Zealand Schools in 2009 and 2010 and also made his first appearance for the Wellington Lions. He was a winner of the 2011 Junior World Championship with New Zealand U20.

3. Perenara scored three tries on his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes against Western Force in 2012 and was picked for the All Blacks Rugby Championship squad the next year without winning a cap.

4. In 2014, Perenara finally made his international debut, against England, coming off the bench for Aaron Smith in the 20-15 win in Auckland. He made his first start, in his eighth International, against USA later that year, and won his 50th cap against Argentina in 2018. In his first 50 games he came off the bench 39 times.

5. In 2018, Perenara was a vocal critic of Israel Folau’s comments on social media about the LGBTQ+ community. The scrum-half has raised funds for, and supported, diversity causes including wearing rainbow laces on his boots.

Perenara said: “Equality in general is something I’m staunch on. I grew up with people who now identify in the Rainbow community, and I’ve got family members who do also, so it is personal for me. But even if I didn’t, I’d still feel the same.”

6. Perenara and wife Greer had their first child, Amaia, in August 2020. Greer revealed on social media she had suffered a miscarriage a year earlier.

7. Perenara switched to a vegan diet at the end of 2019, having been a vegetarian for the previous two-and-a-half years.

8. Perenara won the International Rugby Players’ Try of the Year Award in 2019 for his score in the pool match against Namibia in Tokyo in that year’s Rugby World Cup. Perenara handled twice in a move that went nearly the length of the pitch before a spectacular diving finish in the left-hand corner. The All Blacks won 71-9.

9. In 2021 Perenara confirmed he had been interested in a switch to rugby league with the Sydney Roosters keen on signing him. However, he re-signed with New Zealand Rugby and the Hurricanes later that year after a stint with NTT Red Hurricanes in Japan’s Top League.

10. Perenara, who has Maori heritage, has led the haka regularly before New Zealand games. He explained: “The haka is something that I grew up with. It’s something that I am passionate about, it’s something I’m proud of.”

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