All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara will wear the number nine jersey this weekend against Italy in Rome, and says it's something he wants to do more of.
Speaking to Maori Television today at the team hotel, Perenara said, "Being able to run out in a test match is exciting, being able to start in a test match is super exciting. It's something I want to do more consistently and more often, obviously being a part of this environment is awesome - but I want to be the starting nine. All the nines here share that same goal."
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will back up Perenara on the bench, and his former Hurricanes mentor was full of praise for the All Blacks rookie.
"The skill that he has is second to none. He reads the game very well...the time that he's been getting at Super Rugby and All Black level, he's been impressing everyone."
The All Blacks are coming off a loss to Ireland last weekend, and will look to finish their season on a high this weekend against a plucky Italian side.
Coach Steve Hansen was quick to point out in an earlier press conference today that despite the heat the team had been getting over the past week, their win record this year will end up being identical to the one in 2014 - one year out from the last time they won the Rugby World Cup.