David-Perrot grabs his front-row seat
Arden David-Perrot is definitely not an overnight sensation. Hamish Bidwell reports.
Reggie Goodes is man whose name's been mangled by more than a few people in recent years.
So there's a wee bit of irony in the fact that the man who's replaced him on the loosehead side of Wellington's scrum is no stranger to mispronunciation either.
Like Goodes, Arden David-Perrot is a Wellington College old boy. He's also used to people routinely dropping the Perrot off his name.
"David [pronounced Darvid] is German and Perrot [silent t] is French. My mum's French-Samoan and my dad's German-Samoan and they made sure that I put both names in there," David-Perrot explained.
"My passport says Perrot but, in the rugby scene, everyone knows my dad so at Marist St Pats they've just always put me down as Arden David. I actually had a problem when I played for the New Zealand [under] 21s because my passport didn't match my name, so they had to hyphenate it."
Whatever people choose to call David-Perrot, he was very good against Hawke's Bay in Wellington's 30-15 win on Tuesday night. Only in the starting XV because of Goodes' season-ending eye socket fracture, the 27-year-old scored a try, was dynamic around the park and scrummaged extremely well.
"It was just awesome to get an opportunity - I've been here a while," he said. Part of the Lions' set-up for six years now, David-Perrot has also been loaned out to Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty in that time.
"It's the old story. I had big plans for Reggie and what's happened has opened the door for Arden who, to be fair, has been a bit of a bit part player," said Wellington forwards coach Richard Watt.
David-Perrot said he played just 137 minutes of NPC rugby for Wellington last season, not that he's counting. It's not the reward a player wants from their months of training but, in his case, there have been compensations.
"In the meantime I've been privileged to finish my studies, so the positive side of not having playing opportunities is having opportunities elsewhere," he said.
David-Perrot earned a BA (Education) with honours two years ago and has just completed his post-graduate papers. He doesn't know if he'll go on to seek a doctorate, but is happy that he at least has the option.
On the rugby front, he sees this NPC campaign as "a chance to put my best foot forward."
He certainly did that on Tuesday, giving Hawke's Bay tighthead Peter Borlase a torrid time. Borlase struggled to contain David-Perrot on his own ball and then couldn't stop Wellington from earning a 49th minute pushover try.
Magpies coach Craig Philpott had seen enough and immediately hauled Borlase off.
"I've played Borlase a few times. We grew up playing each other in the age grades and it's always been a good battle," David-Perrot said.
"Collectively, it was a team effort and we've been working hard on scrumming as one. A scrum is not purely on the front rowers, we're just the axis of power."
David-Perrot has been named in the No 1 jersey again, for tomorrow's clash with Southland at Westpac Stadium.
And, as was the case on Tuesday, Wellington will place plenty of importance on trying to dominate at scrum time.
"One of our targets, as the first part of our defence, is to really attack the set pieces," said David-Perrot.
"If we can really shut them down there, then we'll go a long way to helping our all-round defence. I know what it's like to be in a backwards scrum and it really affects your whole game.
"You miss tackles and you're not there mentally because you're thinking about the next scrum and how to get it right.
"If you can get set piece dominance it goes a long way to winning the game."