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TJ Perenara (left) was criticised by a NZ broadcaster.Source:Getty Images
TJ Perenara’s wife and mum have hit back in defence at comments made by broadcaster Sean Plunket that the All Black halfback was “woke”.
When speaking with LGBTQIA+ publication Express magazine, Perenara indicated that the All Blacks would be open to welcome an openly gay teammate.
He said he believed both the team and the New Zealand rugby public shared his inclusive attitude — a stance Plunket wasn’t impressed by when discussing the comments on Magic Talk.
“You’re getting a little woke for me TJ. It’s making me go off you a bit,” Plunket said.
“There’s probably already been a gay All Black, they were just in the closet. But TJ Perenara, jeez you are the best sub halfback, in some ways I’d say the best halfback, in rugby today — you do not need to be woke.
“Whether or not there is a gay All Black will come. Whether or not you approve it or not has got nothing to do with anything. I’m far more interested in [Ardie] Savea’s glasses than your views on gayness, social justice or climate change TJ, you are a rugby player.
“You pass the ball very well, but I am not interested in your views on all these other things.”
But Perenara’s wife, Greer, hit back on social media last night in support of her husband’s views.
“Dear Mr Plunket, the fact you are “put off” by someone being openly inclusive and accepting of our fellow human beings says more about you as a person,” she wrote.
“Following on from that, rugby has changed from what it used to be. People criticised them for just being “rugby heads” just “passing a ball” for a living. Now that they are actually actioning positive change ya’ll still aren’t satisfied. Now they should just “focus on footy,”
She added that players were using their platforms for good as a way to change the game and encouraged her husband to keep speaking up.
“These men/women are more than rugby and that’s what I’m most proud of with my husband. [TJ] keep being you. Keep pushing for better. Keep speaking up. Ain’t no one got time for ignorance these days.”
Perenara’s mum Fiona joined Greer in heaping praise on her son’s stance.
“He has learnt that we must ensure we are all ok. No one is left behind,” she wrote.
“No one should be reeling in riches, while others can’t put food on the table. Everyone should have the right to fall in love and be loved.
“You simply cannot help what the heart feels,” she wrote in response to Plunket.
“Life is far too short to worry about opinions like yours raining down from your ‘ivory towers’.”
Meanwhile, Perenara doesn’t’ look to be taking any notice to the controversial comments made against him as the All Blacks prepare to face Namibia on Sunday at the Rugby World Cup.
This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission.