Manawatu Standard

Weber backs rival’s mooted NRL move

- Aaron Goile

He’s the man with perhaps the most to gain from TJ Perenara’smooted NRL move, but fellow All Blacks halfback Brad Weber would be ‘‘gutted’’ to lose his ‘‘good friend’’ to rugby league, even if he thinks he would be a roaring success at it.

A report emerged on Thursday night from TVNZ that Perenara was in talks with the Sydney Roosters about a potential shift to the 13-man code once his stint with the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in the Japan Top League finishes next month.

The 29-year-old, who has played 69 tests for the All Blacks, is off contract with New Zealand Rugby at the end of this year, and already this week the subject of his future had been in the spotlight, with Sir John Kirwan vocal in feeling NZ Rugby should not re-sign him.

While Aaron Smith remains top dog, Perenara’s absence would open the door for Weber to play a bigger part for the All Blacks, having featured in seven tests off the bench since 2015, and with emerging talent Folau Fakatava dealing with both injury and eligibilit­y issues.

But the Chiefs captain admits it would be a bitterswee­t feeling.

‘‘I’d be gutted to lose him from rugby,’’ Weber said. ‘‘I’ve battled it out with TJ since we were 17, and first and foremost he’s a good friend of mine.

‘‘We’re in the same position and competing against other, so some people might think it’s a bit different of me, but I’d love for him to stick around – he brings the best out of me personally.

‘‘But I ama big rugby league fan as well. You see a lot of the leaguies come over to union, and geez, the type of player he is, he’d be a fantastic league player.’’

Perenara has no league-playing experience, and a touted position of hooker for him in league would come with amassive defensive responsibi­lity, though Weber is sure he could more than hold his own.

‘‘TJ’S never shied away from defensive stuff. He puts shots on the biggest forwards and the biggest backs in the game. So I think he’d actually really enjoy the traffic coming down his way.’’

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