Perenara’s acrobatic try highlights All Blacks’ big win
TOKYO (AP) — It takes something special to move the normally stone-faced Steve Hansen in the All Blacks coaches’ box.
TJ Perenara produced something special.
While New Zealand’s 10th try was being converted against Namibia on Sunday in the Rugby World Cup, Perenara, who’d been sent into Tokyo Stadium for the last 14 minutes as a first-time replacement flyhalf, exhorted the team for one last crack with three minutes left.
“We talked in the huddle about finishing the game strong,” stand-in captain Sam Whitelock said, “and TJ was pretty excited. He was like, ‘Yep, if there’s an opportunity let’s really go for it.'”
The All Blacks received the kickoff, and Perenara went for it. He slipped through Namibia’s first line of defense on the left and carried the attack past halfway. He offloaded to wing George Bridge, and Rieko Ioane offloaded to replacement scrumhalf Brad Weber. Perenara was back up and in support when he received an outrageous behind-the-back pass from Weber 20 meters out.
Perenara was too quick for Namibia hooker Obert Nortje but was slammed by flyhalf Helarius Kisting. But Perenara, falling over the touchline, had just enough momentum to twist and plant the ball beside the left corner flag.
“It was a special one,” Hansen said. “It even got me out of my seat, not too many things do that.”
It made Namibia coach Phil Davies stand up, too: “It was incredible.”
Whitelock, the closest New Zealand forward to the action, said, “I’m not sure how he got it down, but it was pretty impressive.”
Perenara said he was screaming at Weber that he was on his left, when Weber shaped right and suddenly delivered a reverse pass around his back.
“Pretty special,” Perenara said of the pass.
“Having Webby out there, and the speed he has, being able to set me up, was pretty cool. If it was the other way round, and I passed the ball to him, he probably runs around and scores under the sticks, he’s that quick.
“I knew I had the ball down (beside the flag), I just thought my feet were out. The 10 made a good tackle on me, and I tried to get my feet in the air and I thought he had kept me down.”
After a lengthy video review, the try was given, New Zealand’s 11th in a 71-9 win.
Attack coach Ian Foster quipped about how it was the coaches’ fault for putting two 9s — Perenara and Weber — on the field together.
“Mayhem was always going to happen,” Foster joked.
Seriously, “I take my hat off to them. TJ made some really good decisions (at flyhalf) and Brad (who replaced Aaron Smith) provided a little special moment with that pass. The scoreboard enabled them to express themselves the way they wanted, and they got away with it.”