Former All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara has been linked with a move to Sydney Roosters as a hooker.
Perenara - who is a cousin of NRL referee Henry Perenara and his brother Marcus, the former Parramatta halfback - is understood to be seriously considering a code switch after the Japanese rugby union season ends next month.
The 29-year-old has played 69 Tests for the All Blacks but there is speculation that he may not get a new contract with New Zealand Rugby.
The Roosters, who are yet to make an official comment regarding Perenara, are on the lookout for a hooker and are a club renowned for thinking outside the square in recruitment after last year bringing Sonny Bill Williams back for a final season in place of the injured Victor Radley after Toronto Wolfpack withdrew from the English Super League.
Williams is a former teammate of Perenara and is a member of the Roosters' off-field staff.
The retirement of co-captain Jake Friend last week and confirmation that Freddy Lussick suffered a broken arm in the 26-18 win over Cronulla has forced Roosters coach Trent Robinson to call on fifth-string hooker Ben Marschke for Friday night’s clash with Melbourne.
Storm v Roosters - Round 6
With Sam Verills another three to four weeks away from returning after a knee injury last season, Robinson has had to rely on Marschke beating a judiciary charge to avoid using Radley at hooker in just his second match back from a knee reconstruction.
Robinson’s lack of hooking options have been compounded by the loss of halfback Luke Keary with a season-ending knee injury and the unavailability of five-eighth Lachlan Lam for several months after sustaining medial ligament damage.
Utility Drew Hutchinson is playing five-eighth, with 18-year-old sensation Sam Walker calling the shots at halfback.
Marschke wasn’t even in the Roosters top 30 squad until interchange utility Adam Keighran broke his hand in the opening round clash with Manly and Robinson called him up from North Sydney.
"A month-and-a-half ago we had, Jake (Friend), Sam Verrills ready to come back and we had Freddy Lussick and Adam Keighran," Robinson said on Wednesday.
"All those guys ready to play. And then here we are with Ben ready to play.
"So it's great for him to have risen to the challenge in the last couple of weeks really like what we've seen.
"That's credit to North Sydney and their recruitment. That wasn't through the Roosters, that was through North Sydney."
Robinson said after the injury to Lussick in last Saturday night’s win against Cronulla that the club would be scouring far and wide for another hooker.
NRL.com was told on Thursday by sources in New Zealand that Perenara had discussed joining the Roosters to play hooker and contacted the club.
Perenara’s manager Warren Alcock did not reply to messages from NRL.com but confirmed to TV One that his client was considering other options besides returning to rugby union in New Zealand.
“We are talking to NZR and other parties that have approached us,” Alcock said.
Perenara, who was co-captain of the Wellington Hurricanes, was given permission to miss this year’s Super Rugby competition and play in Japan.
However, All Blacks great and former Warriors star John Kirwan this week said Perenara should not be re-signed by NZR after his stint in Japan’s Top League, which finishes on May 23.