Super Rugby Pacific: Blues utility Stephen Perofeta eyes All Blacks No.10 jersey, with Richie Mo'unga, Beauden Barrett gone

After playing second fiddle to Beauden Barrett for the past few seasons, Stephen Perofeta feels he's now ready to step up and lead the Blues backline into Super Rugby Pacific.

Perofeta is likely to get the first crack in the No.10 jersey in Barrett's absence and he's ready to make it his own.

Checking in for the Blues pre-season trip to Japan, he is looking forward to a change of scenery. 

"I'm going straight to the 7-Eleven as soon as I get there to get me an onigiri and an egg sandwich," he told Newshub.

Stephen Perofeta in action for the Blues.
Stephen Perofeta in action for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

Perofeta, 26, has bigger ambitions than just indulging the Japanese cuisine for the next fortnight. The Blues pre-season hitouts against Suntory and Canon Eagles present an opportunity to cement himself as coach Vern Cotter's first-choice first-five.

"It's a massive opportunity for me," he said. "It's never a given, I know I've got to earn it and I know it's there for the taking."

Perofeta feels ready to take it. He's already shown how influential he can be for the Blues and his maiden All Blacks call-up in 2022 was testament to his form.

If he's to get back there, taking command of the Blues backline would be a valuable first step, although Perofeta admits such leaderships roles haven't always come naturally.

"I've grown into it, and it's something I've taken on board and something I'm wanting to do," he said. "It's a role that I look forward to."

With Richie Mo'unga overseas and Beauden Barrett returning from Japan mid year, Perofeta can propel himself back into the All Blacks conversation this year.

Consistent and compelling minutes at first-five would be a good way to do that.