Good old fashioned support play lies behind TJ Perenara’s heady try-scoring strike rate which is putting to shame the wide flyers of Super Rugby.
With one round remaining in the regular season, the Hurricanes’ halfback tops the competition list with 10 tries following his double in last week’s crushing defeat of the Highlanders.
He sits one clear of Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo and could yet buck a trend of outside backs winning the season-high honours.
Just twice in the past decade has a player not on the wing or at fullback scored the most tries – Hurricanes inside centre Ma’a Nonu in 2009 and Cheetahs halfback Sarel Pretorius, who shared the status in 2011.
Perenara insists he hasn’t been given any stick – yet – by the likes of Hurricanes teammate Julian Savea, the prolific Test winger who sits three tries behind him.
He credits the likes of Savea for his record.
“They all just come from someone else’s line break and I’m just there getting the ball on the inside,” Perenara said.
“I expect our boys to beat people one-on-one, just because of how hard I see them train. Then it’s just a matter of getting into good position.”
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says Perenara is right to put his strike rate down to being in the right place at the right time.
However, that is easier said than done, he says, with Perenara’s 26 tries in four seasons a tribute to his rugby nous as much as his speed and strength.
“He runs really optimistic lines, TJ; he’s got a good sniff to know where the break’s going to be,” Boyd said.
“And when you’ve guys who can play on the edge like Ardie and Julian Savea and Victor Vito, if you’re in the right place, you’re going to get some plums.”
Perenara is braced for another stern test for his competition-leading side against the Chiefs on Saturday in New Plymouth.
He had respect for the speed of opposite Brad Weber and the power of benched halfback Augustine Pulu, who has sparked the Chiefs attack in recent weeks.
TOP 2015 TRY-SCORERS:
10 – TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
9 – Waisake Naholo (Highlanders)
8 – Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs), Boom Prinsloo (Cheetahs)
7 – Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders), David Pocock (Brumbies), Francois Venter (Cheetahs), Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
2014 – 12, Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders), Israel Folau (Waratahs)
2013 – 10, Frank Halai (Blues)
2012 – 10, Andre Taylor (Hurricanes), Bjorn Basson (Bulls)
2011 – 9, Sean Maitland (Crusaders), Bjorn Basson (Bulls), Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs)
2010 – 9, Joe Rokocoko (Blues), Drew Mitchell (Waratahs)
2009 – 9, Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes)
2008 – 8, Lelia Masaga (Chiefs)
2007 – 12, JP Pietersen (Sharks)
2006 – 10, Lome Fa’atau (Hurricanes)
2005 – 15, Rico Gear (Crusaders)