Words of advice have paid off for Perenara
With some words of advice from his grandfather, TJ Perenara decided to try his hand at Wellington premier club rugby rather than play what would have been a fifth season in the first XV competition.
"I asked him what he thought about the idea, and he said: `If you are good enough, you are old enough, regardless of how old you are'," Perenara said.
This advice came from Norths stalwart Terry Farrow and in the months since, Perenara, 18, has shown his age is not a disadvantage.
Last Saturday the halfback dictated play from behind the scrum in his side's semifinal 38-13 win over Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Sadly Perenara's grandfather and adviser died in May but that was not before he saw his grandson help Norths beat Upper Hutt 82-6 in April to win the Terry Farrow Memorial Cup, which is in memory of Perenara's great-grandfather who died in 1999.
"That was awesome," Perenara said. "My first game was for the Farrow Cup and it was just great that he [Farrow] got to see me play for it."
For the rookie premier player this season has been a huge learning curve.
"It is a big step up and it feels like I am learning a lot from the senior players," he said.
However, he also knows his place in the team.
"Off the field they [his Norths team-mates] give me some stick.
"I am at halfback so I am doing most of the talking and they do listen, but then off the field I'm the young one, so you get to do the dishes when we have breakfasts.
"I definitely know my role as the young guy and I do fly under the radar a bit."
However, while Norths have booked their place in Sunday's final of the Jubilee Cup it has been a winter that the Mana College first XV would rather forget.
After being the beaten finalist in the premier one College Sport Wellington competition for the past two years the team has struggled in the grade this year and finished eighth in the eight-team competition, winning just one of their eight games.
The side conceded 248 points and scored just 43.
"It is hard that I am not out there with them. I wish I could be, but for my career it is better I am at Norths," he said.
"I have tried to motivate them [the Mana College players] and bring the feeling back into the team. We [Mana College] have good enough players but the pride in the shirt just doesn't seem to be there.
"The hardest thing was for me was leaving the boys I have grown up with and played alongside and I still find it hard not to be running out on the field with them."
Perenara did consider making a return to the school team for the final of the Beard Trophy against Bishop Viard College last month.
"I wanted to play, but I have Norths rugby on the Saturday and if I got injured it would have ruled me out of a competition game, so I didn't," Perenara said.
"I gave myself the hard word about that one."
A member of the New Zealand secondary school team that beat Australia last year, he is a step closer to retaining his position in this year's side having made the 50-player squad.
The final team will be named early next month.
"Representing my country is a huge aim and it is definitely at the top of my list."
International honours are not new in the Perenara home.
His father, Thomas, was a member of the world championship winning Black Sox team in 1996 and his mother, Fiona, also played international softball for New Zealand.
The Dominion Post