|Full name||Thomas Tekanapu Rawakata Perenara|
|Date of birth||23 January 1992|
|Place of birth||Porirua, New Zealand|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||91 kg (14 st 5 lb; 201 lb)|
Henry Perenara (cousin)|
Marcus Perenara (cousin)
|Rugby union career|
Thomas Tekanapu Rawakata ("TJ") Perenara (born 23 January 1992) is a New Zealand rugby union player who represents the All Blacks internationally, is the current Vice-Captain of the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby competition and is signed to the Wellington Lions in the ITM Cup. He was part of the New Zealand Under 20s rugby team that won the 2011 IRB Junior World Championships in Italy. And he was part of the Hurricanes side in the 2016 super rugby final.
He was selected for the All Blacks squad for the 2013 The Rugby Championship but was not capped that year.
After finishing the 2014 Super Rugby season with five tries, he made his All Blacks debut in the first test against England in 2014, along with centre Malakai Fekitoa. Perenara scored his first test try for the All Blacks in a 34-13 win against Argentina that year after replacing Aaron Smith off the bench. Perenara then went on to start for the first time in his international career against the United States, only being replaced with nine minutes to go. Perenara played in all three remaining tests on the end-of-year tour, including a start against Scotland.
Perenara scored the second-to-most tries of any player in the 2015 Super Rugby season behind Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo, scoring eleven tries for the Hurricanes that season. Following the end of the Super Rugby season, Perenara started against Argentina for the All Blacks. He was named in New Zealand's ultimately victorious 2015 Rugby World Cup squad, playing in two matches, including a start against Namibia.
Perenara was named vice-captain of the Hurricanes following Conrad Smith's departure to Pau. Perenara captained the Hurricanes multiple times in 2016 due to injuries to regular captain Dane Coles, including the semi-final against the Chiefs. Perenara was also named man of the match against the Sharks in the quarter-final, where he scored a try in the 41-0 victory, the first time in Super Rugby history that a losing team did not score any points in a knockout round.
Perenara was initially left out of New Zealand's All Blacks squad in 2016, but was called up as injury cover for Tawera Kerr-Barlow. Perenara and Kerr-Barlow were both kept in the squad for the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks deciding to have three halfbacks in the squad. During the competition, Aaron Smith began to decrease in form quality after having multiple off-field incidents. Perenara earned a start against Argentina in the championship, keeping the starting spot over Kerr-Barlow for the rest of the competition. He scored 4 tries during the competition, including two tries against South Africa and what was later nominated for Try of The Year against Argentina. Perenara has been used as New Zealand's Haka leader since Smith's off-field incidents too.
Towards the end of 2016 Perenara was established as New Zealand's first-choice halfback, upon Aaron Smith's decline in performance after his return to the international field. Perenara ended 2016 as one of the team's top try-scorers after scoring his fifth of the year in the historic 40-29 loss to Ireland in Chicago.
2017 to present
After captaining the Hurricanes to an 83-17 win over the Sunwolves to open their season, Perenara took over as captain of the team and lead the team in every single match of the year except for four. This happened after Dane Coles was badly concussed in round three against the Chiefs. Coles did not return to action until the knockout rounds. Coles relieved Perenara of captaincy in the semi-final. Perenara scored the opening try of the semi-final in Johannesburg, but the Hurricanes suffered a 29-44 loss to the Lions in the match.
Perenara became the highest try-scorer of all halfbacks in Super Rugby history in 2017 where he scored his 44th try and seventh of the 2017 season in the semi-final loss to the Lions in Johannesburg. Perenara scored his first try of the 2018 Super Rugby campaign against the Crusaders to score his 45th try. Perenara has the second-to-most tries of 48 tries than any active Super Rugby player behind New South Wales Waratahs fullback Israel Folau.
Despite an outstanding Super Rugby campaign, Perenara went back to being the second-choice halfback with Aaron Smith returning to better form. This was made clear in the 2017 Pasifika Challenge against Samoa where Perenara replaced Smith in the 56th minute of the 78-0 win, scoring a try in the 71st minute. Smith started as halfback in all three tests against the British and Irish Lions in 2017, with Perenara coming off the bench as a reserve in those three matches. Perenara lead the Haka in every single test against the Lions. He carried a heavy workload for the All Blacks in 2017, playing in 14 matches that year and leading the haka in all of those, including starts against Argentina which was a 39-22 win and the Barbarians in a 31-22 win, scoring a try against the Barbarians in that fixture, that was not a capped fixture. Perenara only missed one test that year, which was the last 2017 Rugby Championship fixture.
Perenara was expected to take over as Hurricanes captain for 2018, with Dane Coles ruled out for the season due to a torn ACL, sustained against France in 2017. Perenara remained as vice-captain however, with the departing flanker Brad Shields named as captain for his last season with the Hurricanes, instead of Perenara or Coles as Captain. Perenara struggled with injury through the competition, but stil scored six tries during the 2018 Super Rugby season. Perenara's most notable contribution to the Hurricanes in 2018 was his Man-of-the-Match performance against the Chiefs in the semi-final, scoring two tries and performing a try-saving tackle on Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier.
Perenara was again selected for the All Blacks in 2018, but received the first yellow card of his career during the 2018 Steinlager series against France. Perenara has played in every single All Blacks test of 2018 so far as well, all but one of them off the bench as a replacement for Aaron Smith. Perenara was selected to start for the All Blacks against Argentina, on the 8th September 2018, during the 2018 Rugby Championship. Perenara had an outstanding 71-minute performance that included two tries and solid defence, bringing his international try tally to 10 tries from 48 tests. Perenara was subbed off for All Black debutant and former Hurricanes team-mate Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, with the All Blacks beating Argentina 46-24. Perenara was named Man of the Match.
His father Thomas (whose father hails from Matata) played for the Junior Kiwis in 1987 and in the New Zealand Softball Team (Black Sox) from 1987 to 1996. His mother Fiona (Farrow) played softball for New Zealand as did his grandmother Patricia Farrow and his uncle Jason Farrow. Perenara's paternal grandmother was born in Broken Hill, Australia. Two of his cousins, Henry and Marcus, played in the National Rugby League competition. He is also distantly related to Sonny Bill Williams.
- "Sharpe's milestone ruined by Hurricanes". rugby.com.au.
- "News". All Blacks.
- "Rugby World Cup 2015: Waisake Naholo in New Zealand squad". BBC Sport. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
- TJ Perenara confident of full recovery The Dominion Post, 28 June 2012