TJ Perenara mulling NRL switch, says gelling with teammates bigger challenge than 40 tackles

All Blacks scrum-half TJ Perenara believes he could make a successful transition to rugby league, confirming his interest in the NRL is genuine and that he has spoken with Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

Perenara's future has been the subject of ongoing speculation since a report first emerged that he had been sounded out as a potential answer to the Roosters' lack of depth at hooker following the retirement of Jake Friend.

Speaking on a Zoom call from Japan, where he is currently engaged with NTT Docomo in the Japanese Top League playoffs, Perenara confirmed he was serious about a switch but had put a final call on his future on hold until his commitments wrap up in Asia.

"No decision yet, there are a few different scenarios on the table. But in all honesty my wife and I haven't come to a decision yet...I would be doing the club and the boys that I've worked hard with [at NTT Docomo] no justice by focusing on anything else besides our playoff games coming up," Perenara said.

"I wanted to make a conscious decision to focus on the games at hand and then when there is some time to put some thought into other things, do that in due time."

Whether Perenara could make a successful switch has been an ongoing topic of conversation in both rugby and rugby league circles, with doubts over his ability to make upwards of 40 tackles a game in league, as required by a hooker, compared with the small number of tackles a rugby scrum-half traditionally has to make.

Whether Perenara is being viewed as a starter at the Roosters or a player who can come off the bench, utilizing his excellent kicking and running games, is unknown at this point. But the veteran of 69 Tests said he was confident he could adapt to the far greater defensive workload regardless, and actually saw an even tougher challenge when analysing the potential switch.

"Yeah, I think it will take some getting used to; I don't think it would be something [making 40 tackles] that I could walk into tomorrow and be able to do tomorrow without noticing the difference," he said.

"So condition myself, once the decision is made, from that point in time to game one, is something that I would have to do and something that I would put a lot of time and effort into doing.

"But it's something that I don't think would be the biggest challenge going to the game, the physical side of it; I think the time constraint of entering a team later in the year and trying to gel with players and win a championship, that would be the biggest time constraint."

Reports suggested New Zealand Rugby [NZR] might not be keen on bringing Perenara home from Japan, but there is no doubting his ongoing passion for the Hurricanes, who have struggled in his absence this season.

If he was to head back to New Zealand, he would likely continue to fight out the deputy All Blacks role with Brad Weber behind superstar No. 9 Aaron Smith. Boom Highlanders prospect Folau Fakatava was also thought to be headed for a black jersey, but details of residency issues emerging on the back of his ACL injury may also put pressure on NZR to rethink their plans on Perenara.

Whatever he decides, Perenara is adamant he is motivated by the challenge of testing himself in the 13-player code and that the talks with the Roosters are not simply a play to drive up his price in New Zealand.

"Yeah it's definitely genuine, from both parties as well," he said. "It's definitely a challenge but it's something that I've thought about throughout the course of my career; I played league when I was a little bit younger.

"So in contract years I've often thought about it but I've never engaged in conversations to the extent that we're at now."