All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara will miss Super Rugby next year to take up a contract in Japan.
The Hurricanes No 9 confirmed on Monday he had signed with the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes club for the 2021 season.
Perenara would reportedly travel with the All Blacks to Australia on Sunday and then depart for Japan at the completion of the abbreviated Rugby Championship.
The 28-year-old, who had recently welcomed his first child alongside wife Greer, said the contract didn’t necessarily mean the end of his playing days in New Zealand.
“I’m looking forward to an exciting challenge over in Japan… with a new group of players, a new coaching group and I’m really excited about that adventure for myself and my family.”
Perenara has played for the Hurricanes since 2012 and gone on to notch 66 test caps, 50 of those off the bench.
Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland said while Perenara would be missed, he went with the blessings of the organisation.
“TJ has been the heart and soul of this team for many years, however I’m sure he has not played his last game in the Hurricanes jersey.”
New Zealand Rugby’s head of professional rugby, Chris Lendrum, said they would start contract discussions with Perenara’s management in due course, regarding his return.
“TJ has been a long-standing and loyal player for New Zealand Rugby for a decade now and so the opportunity for him to have a break from playing here to have the experience of playing in Japan is a positive for him and his family.
“We wish him and his wife Greer all the very best and will welcome him back when he returns.”
Perenara’s move followed in the footsteps of his All Blacks team-mate Beauden Barrett.
The first-five/fullback was also out of Super Rugby for 2021 after announcing a deal with the Suntory Sungoliath in July.
The scheduled start for the Japanese Top League season is on January 16, with the competition due to wrap up in May.
SOURCE – RADIO NZ