Perofeta poised to replace injured Beauden Barrett against Hurricanes
All Blacks back Stephen Perofeta is poised for a timely return to the Blues for their North Island derby against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
With Beauden Barrett likely to spend a week on the sidelines after being forced from the field with a cut to his heel during Saturday’s win over the Reds, Perofeta shapes as the ideal replacement to fill the No. 10 jersey in his teammate’s absence.
Although the injury is of no longterm concern, Barrett required stitches to his heel and is also due an All Blacks rest week.
Perofeta hasn’t featured for the Blues since injuring his shoulder against the Waratahs last month.
But after missing the last four weeks of action while undertaking an extra cautious approach to his rehabilitation, the 26-year-old is desperate to get back out onto the turf at Eden Park this weekend. “The shoulder is tracking pretty good,” Perofeta said.
“I’ve had pretty much two weeks to get in full training so I’m feeling pretty confident. If I wasn’t fully confident then I’d pull pin straight away.
“The strength is getting there - but I have itchy feet.”
Perofeta’s issue was a recurrence of an old injury - a small labrum tear that led to inflammation and bruising in his bursa, which - with rest and recovery - he believes has “come right”.
He revealed he likely could have played last weekend against the Reds, but decided - in consultation with his coaches - he’d be better served by another week of training to further increase his confidence in his shoulder.
If the Blues’ backline formations at Tuesday’s training were anything to go by, Harry Plummer may be their preferred option to start at pivot, with Perofeta potentially coming off the bench.
They may also look to use him at fullback at the expense of Zarn Sullivan.
But five days out from the Blues’ clash with the Cane, Perofeta is adamant he’s ready to step up to the plate - be it as part of the run-on XV or as a substitute.
“I’m confident enough to start. If I come off the bench, I’m confident enough to come off the bench as well,” he added.
“Beaudy’s a big loss in terms of his leadership and his flare and his skillset.
“But there’s many good leaders in our team, and there’s 14 other boys who have got a role to play in getting a result this weekend.”