Rugby: Ian Foster promises All Blacks opportunities for Stephen Perofeta on northern tour

With an All Blacks career counted in seconds, Stephen Perofeta can expect more opportunities as reward for his patience on this year's northern tour.

A standout season for the Blues on their way to Super Rugby Pacific final saw Perofeta, 25, given his first All Blacks call-up by coach Ian Foster, but he was unneeded in the series loss to Ireland.

When it came, his eventual debut amounted to only 50 seconds, when he was rushed onto the field, as the All Blacks fell to Argentina at Christchurch, and as they battled to retain the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup against Australia, Perofeta hasn't worn the black jersey since.

Stephen Perofeta and Rieko Ioane.
Stephen Perofeta and Rieko Ioane. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

In an apparent vote of confidence, Foster has named Perofeta in his 35-man squad to travel to Japan and Europe, while Damian McKenzie - who'd previously played the same role as first-five/fullback cover - will tour with the second-string All Blacks XV.

This month's test against Japan stands out as a glaring opportunity for Perofeta and others who've been forced to wait for their opportunities, as the All Blacks toy with selection, before heading to Europe.

Foster has outlined the difficulty in working Perofeta into his equation.

"Part of being in a team is that you don't always get the opportunities for everyone," Foster told Sky Sport's Breakdown.

"Certainly with Stephen, we think he's grown immensely through the last 4-5 months. We loved the way he's gone about his work.

"The fact he hasn't really got an opportunity was probably not a lot to do with him. Some of those early results put us under pressure to keep the combinations growing.

"You'll see his name pop up in the next test and we'll try to give him another opportunity on tour."

Since his brief NZ debut, Perofeta has impressed Foster in the National Provincial Championship for Taranaki and while Foster has never doubted his promise, the northern tour will be a chance for him to show his wares at the highest level.

"He's had 2-3 games back for Taranaki and that's been good for him. It's kept him in tune, but he's a player with a big future. 

"We really feel like we owe Stephen an opportunity to show what he's learned."

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