All Blacks scrumhalf Perenara commits to New Zealand until 2021
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara has signed a four-year contract to keep him with New Zealand Rugby and the Wellington Hurricanes until 2021.
The 25-year-old follows flanker Sam Cane's decision earlier this month to commit to the team until midway through the next Rugby World Cup cycle.
"The All Blacks will always be the goal and to be able to chase that dream for another four years here in New Zealand is a challenge I'm looking forward to," Perenara said in a statement on Friday.
"Being in Wellington and playing for the Hurricanes is a big driver for me. It's where I grew up, it's my home and it's where my family is. Family means a lot and being able to be close to them and be around them is important."
Perenara's retention is a boost for the All Blacks, with fellow scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow joining French club La Rochelle after next month's European tour and coach Steve Hansen still scouting potential replacements two years from the 2019 Rugy World Cup.
"TJ is a world-class player and a very important part of our team," Hansen said.
"He's an incredibly competitive athlete who has taken his game to another level in recent seasons and he has a great understanding of what it means to be a test player with close to 40 tests under his belt.
"He plays a key role for us both on and off the park and is continuing to look to develop his all-round skills, including his leadership skills and, in fact, has now become one of the senior players in the squad."
The All Blacks leave for their tour later on Friday with tests against France, Scotland and Wales and non-test matches with the Barbarians in London and a French Selection in Lyon.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ken Ferris)