Eyes on the prize but also the jersey for Stephen Perofeta

Stephen Perofeta admits it's hard not to think about 2024.

Don't get the Blues playmaker wrong, he has this year's Super Rugby competition at the forefront of his mind.

But, with Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett set to leave New Zealand after the global tournament, Perofeta could be forgiven for envisioning himself becoming the starting All Blacks first-five next year.

"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about that.

"It will definitely be an opportunity when that time comes around. But, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself right now, worrying about what could happen in the future.

It's only human to think of what might be and Perofeta is determined not to let anything distract him from the task at hand, winning a Super Rugby title with the Blues.

"That's definitely the goal.

"The work I'm doing with the our mental skills coach around strategies and ways I can have a fresh mindset each week where I'm focusing on the present and how I can make each day count. I believe having a focus on now and where I'm at with the Blues is going to help me achieve in the future.

"There's a good group of us that have been here for about four or five years. But, just as important and just as key is our depth.

"Our younger players our younger group who are coming up. It's up to us to help them be on the cohesion level that we want because today's game now, you rely on your 23. You want your 23 getting tested by your own team's non players every week and that's what produces that winning performance on the weekend, it's a whole squad effort.

He's also keen to extract all the information he can from Barrett before the World Cup winner leaves Aotearoa.

"Looking to the future. Losing those guys (Mo'unga and Barrett) Beauden will be a big loss (to New Zealand rugby).

"So, I've got to make the most of spending time with the likes of Baz (Barrett) and grabbing all the knowledge and skills that he has to offer. Study the way he looks and the game and the way he plays. Picking golden nuggets from him over where I think I can grow my game."

Naturally, Perofeta wants to be part of the All Blacks squad that heads to World Cup later this year.

He believes a strong Super Rugby campaign gives him the best chance of being in France come September.

"It's in the back of my mind. But, I'm currently with the Blues and that's my sole focus. Doing my best and performing well for the team consistently. Making sure I'm not satisfied each week and don't let myself think that just going through the motions is going to be enough as there's always room to grow.



Stephen Perofeta. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz