Rugby: TJ Perenara well ahead of schedule for injury comeback, on track for Hurricanes return

After initially being told he'd be sidelined for nine months with a leg injury, TJ Perenara is racing through his recovery and now hopes to feature for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby, putting his World Cup ambitions back on track.

Perenara ruptured his achilles during the All Blacks' clash with England last year and, despite the setback, the 80-test veteran has never been more determined to get back to the top, with the dangling carrot of a third World Cup appearance in his sights.

"I know my body, I understand how my body works, it's feeling good now," Perenara told Newshub.

"I feel really confident about my recovery."

Originally fearing he'd be out of rugby until August, Perenara is now targeting a return to play at the back end of Super Rugby, possibly as early as April, which seemed a near impossibility when he limped off the Twickenham turf during the drawn test against the English. 

The 31-year-old has taken rehab in his stride.

"I love the challenge of trying to wake up and be better than I was the day before, that could be one little thing, like today I'm walking better than I walked yesterday and it's starting to become more natural," Perenara said.

TJ Perenara ruptured his achilles against England in November.
TJ Perenara ruptured his achilles against England in November. Photo credit: Getty Images

But this recovery is about much more than just playing rugby for Perenara.

He's eager to use this experience to grow, and to be better in all walks of life, both on and off the field.

"If you're lucky you might play 30 odd games a year. 15 club games and 15 international games. That leaves a lot of other days, 335 days, where you can continue to try and get better."

"Even if I never end up playing again, and touch wood that doesn't happen, I can build some really good relationships here and some really cool memories for me in the future as well."

With his rehabilitation well ahead of schedule, soon the walking will turn into running, the running will lead to passing before Perenara can begin proper participation in Hurricanes training. 

Although not Perenara isn't quite ready to resume full training with the Hurricanes, coach Jason Holland can sense his star halfback's enthusiasm to return to the fold.

"You can never be 100 percent nailed on with TJ because whatever you tell him he'll challenge you and try and do it two weeks earlier," Holland said.

"He's in and around our environment and we've got a couple of little roles that we'll get him to keep working away at over the next couple of months to get us to be winning."

But there's no getting rid of Perenara's competitive edge and his desire to succeed at the top level.

After being dropped from the All Blacks for most of last year, he was recalled for the final two tests against Scotland and England.

"Getting a taste of test match rugby again at the end of the year definitely poured a bit of fuel back onto that fire," Perenara says.

He's keen to keep that fire burning, as he chases a spot in coach Ian Foster's All Blacks squad to contest the William Webb Ellis Trophy in France later this year.

"I honestly believe I've got a lot more to give," he insisted.

"My desire to compete on the world stage is stronger than it has been for a long time."

Watch the full story above