The long wait to make his test debut is about to pay off for TJ Perenara.

Taken on tour to the Northern Hemisphere last year, Perenara was set to play his first test in the black jersey in the final match of the trip against Ireland in Dublin, but the pressure the visitors were put under meant Aaron Smith played the entire 80 minutes.

The Hurricanes No 9 was forced to sit and watch while the other reserves - Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Liam Messam, Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty - all played integral roles in getting the All Blacks across the line for their 14th test victory of the year.

Tonight, however, the wait should end. Perenara's presence on the bench has been overshadowed by that of Patrick Tuipulotu and Malakai Fekitoa, two exciting prospects who have burst on to the scene this year.


The selection of Perenara, who got the nod for the bench spot over Chiefs rival Tawera Kerr-Barlow, is a deserved one and a reflection of his form for Mark Hammett's men.

In the lead-up to last year's Ireland test, Perenara spoke to the Herald of the wait, saying it was only right and proper and in fact had made him a better player. "The way I look at it, the All Blacks are the best team in the world and it shouldn't be easy to play for them," the 22-year-old said. "You shouldn't be picked straight away, you should have to graft your way through. As hard as it is for me to not be playing, it is the best team in the world.

"I've learned a lot actually, a lot about myself and a lot about footy. I guess not playing, I've learned a lot more about the game. I've played a lot of footy and not really thought about the game and the way the game is being played ... about, I guess, the fundamentals of rugby itself."

Perenara believes the strength of his running game had led him to skip over a halfback's other core roles of kicking and passing. The time spent in the All Blacks environment, where every single skill is put under the microscope, has helped him develop.

"The higher you get in your footy, the better the opposition get and the better they can read you. If you don't have anything else, they shut down your running game and then your passing and kicking game is ineffective as well."