Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks TJ Perenara's proud stand for social justice

While all Rugby World Cup attention is currently on the Japanese team and the impending opening game on Friday, it will soon be on the All Blacks.

And even though they have a tough first game to prepare for, there's a zen feeling in the camp.

When the All Blacks visited a 1000-year-old Shinto Shrine in Tokyo, they proved quite the attraction.

And while a lot of the players see media attention as a necessary evil, halfback TJ Perenara has used the platform as a way of highlighting social issues.

"Rugby is such a big thing," Perenara told Newshub's Mike McRoberts. "Especially for young kids in New Zealand.

"For us to be able to use that platform positively and to have an impact on the community positively, I think is important to us."

In the All Blacks' biggest home match this season - the Bledisloe Cup rematch at Eden Park - Perenara wrote 'Ihumatao' on his arm in solidarity with the protest over a planned housing development.

The day after the win, he even visited the site to lend his support.

And then there was his very public rejection of now former Wallaby Israel Folau's homophobic social media posts, with some posts of his own.

"Inclusivity and diversity and equality probably all fit in the same boat for me, so those are things that I’m deeply passionate about and are very important to me."

The 27-year-old is currently learning Te Reo Māori and said the Japanese shrine was reminiscent of a marae in its spiritual nature. 

Seen by his teammates as a natural leader, some have suggested a political career could beckon, but he says he'd do something more hands on.

"Something that I’m passionate about is working with youth and working with troubled youth. It’s an area that I feel like I could have an impact in and I want to have an impact in."

Not that anyone would want him to give up his day job any time soon.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join Newshub for live updates of the All Blacks v South Africa from 9:45 pm Saturday