Returning All Black TJ Perenara has rejected suggestions by head coach Ian Foster he used interest from NRL clubs as a negotiation tactic with New Zealand Rugby.
On Monday, the veteran halfback was named in Foster's squad for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship, two months after he turned down an offer from Sydney Roosters to recommit to NZR.
Foster has admitted he's not convinced the league deal was genuine.
"I didn’t really know whether TJ was serious with the NRL or not," Foster says.
"I wasn't personally over-impressed that that played out publicly. I made that point to him, I didn't like the senior All Black coming out and saying he was thinking of leaving.
"That's all part of the negotiation ploy, I guess."
But Perenara is standing by his story, hitting back at Foster's suggestions his mooted move was merely a leverage play.
"We were genuine in all discussions, it wasn't a ploy," Perenara insists. "The decision to come back to New Zealand was a really tough decision because of how close we were to going to the NRL and back to Japan."
Ploy or not, the 29-year-old is back in the squad and ready to compete for the No. 9 jersey, with club rugby outings since his return from Japan making him eligible for All Blacks selection.
Meanwhile, the only other changes for the Rugby Championship see props Ofa Tuungafasi and Joe Moody return from injury to take the places of Ethan de Groot and George Bower.
Moody isn't expected to return to fitness until late in August keeping Bower in the fold as injury cover, whole De Groot rejoins Southland for their upcoming national provincial championship campaign.
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