Think of the stereotypical Aucklander and immediately images of a latte swilling sort spring to mind, a fashionable hipster wandering the streets of Ponsonby road.
Now imagine the very antithesis of that and you’ve got new Blues prop Tim Perry.
Born and raised in a farm in Barrhill between Rakaia and Methven, Perry has made one hell of a lifestyle change, swapping pig hunting and farming for flat whites and the front row.
The 24-year-old loosehead prop has shifted up to the big smoke to make the most of his first Super Rugby opportunity, and while he’s still getting to grips with the bustling traffic, apartment living and cafÈ culture, he’s had no such trouble on the rugby field.
The Tasman Makos prop has been duelling with converted hooker Tom McCartney for a position in the starting line-up, and he’s been given the nod to make his third successive start for the Blues against the Brumbies on Saturday.
He faced his most thorough examination to date last week against a powerful All Black front row from the Crusaders and he was more than up to the challenge, putting in a strong performance.
“I don’t think many people were backing us to hold our own but once we got out there we thought ëbugger this we’re going to give it our best shot’ and stand up for ourselves,” Perry said.
“It gave us a bit of confidence. There were a few good scrums and a few things still to work on but it was a good opportunity to test myself against one of the best in Owen Franks.”
The team’s philosophy of ‘Better Never Stops’ has been embraced by Perry who is continually challenging forwards coach Mick Byrne and scrum specialist Nick White to make him into a more rounded prop.
“I’m just constantly learning, the rugby side of it is awesome and it’s a great environment to be in with a great group of boys. It’s definitely been an enjoyable few months and the learnings have been huge.”
It’s a fine achievement for a player who almost gave up the game entirely to focus on farming at one stage. After boarding school Perry joined the Crusaders academy but decided he’d had enough.
So he bought some dogs and set off for the Rakaia Gorge to go shepherding and pig hunting. After a few years his hunger for the game returned and after playing for Rakaia and the Mid Canterbury Heartland team, he moved up to a farm in Blenheim and cracked into the Tasman squad.
That’s where he caught the eye of Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan, who brought the burly prop north with him for the 2013 Investec Super Rugby season.
Perry admits it wasn’t a clear cut decision to move to the bright lights of Auckland, but it’s one he’s thankful he made.
“I had to give it a bit of thought when I was first offered a contract and it was a big change with a lot of differences. I said I’d think about it and I had a chat to a few people, and decided it’s a bloody good opportunity and with the calibre of coaching staff it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”
Such is Perry’s passion for the outdoors and countryside, he even missed the Blues’ 2013 squad naming because he was out on a hunting trip.
“We lost the semi final with the Makos so I was packing up ready to head down on a hunting and fishing trip,” Perry said.
“I was out whitebaiting and my agent was trying to ring me to tell me about this Blues breakfast launch thing but I didn’t have any reception and I only found out the morning I was supposed to be up there and it was too late so I couldn’t make it.”
With his rugby going well on the field, Perry is beginning to settle into life in Auckland. During his time off he’s still been able to embrace the hunger gatherer within, heading down to a friend’s farm in Pukekohe for a spot of pig hunting, or catching up with teammate Kane Barrett at his Taranaki home for some fishing.
But after a disappointing loss to the Crusaders last week, the focus has been purely on taking the lessons and putting them into action on Saturday night against a powerful Brumbies side.†
Perry knows it will be one fierce contest between two sides desperate for a win.†
ìThey’ll be a tough side. It’ll be another step up from the Crusaders in terms of physicality and they’ve got a good scrum as well so we’re going to have to knuckle down.î