'Sad for the game': NRL referee forced into shock retirement

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·2-min read
Henry Perenara, pictured here during a game between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs in 2019.
Henry Perenara looks on during a game between the Bulldogs and Rabbitohs in 2019. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NRL referee Henry Perenara has been forced into retirement due to a concerning heart condition.

The 40-year-old revealed to the Daily Telegraph that he won't be officiating any more NRL games on the field in the future.

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Perenara said he has been diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (an abnormally fast heartbeat), which can cause shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting.

The 204-game refereeing veteran said he experienced an episode at training last week that sparked the decision to retire.

“I nearly blacked out,” he said.

“I don’t remember much of it, but that’s when I had to make the decision to give it away. You certainly don’t want to risk it happening in a game.”

Perenara will continue his role as a Bunker official and help coach younger referees.

Henry Perenara had lived with condition for 15 years

The New Zealander said he has been living with the condition for 15 years, but only got it diagnosed in February.

“I just kept pushing through it," he said.

"It’s not life-threatening, but it’s not good either. It feels like your heart is beating out of your chest. It’s happened in games, but I’ve just tried to mask it.”

Tyson Frizell, pictured here speaking to Henry Perenara during an NRL game in 2020.
Tyson Frizell speaks to Henry Perenara during an NRL game in 2020. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Perenara made the startling revelation that his heartbeat can reach 230 beats per minute at times.

A normal resting heart rate for an adult is between 60-100, while the absolute maximum is around 180.

Perenara played 72 games in the NRL across stints with the Warriors, Storm, Dragons, Eels and Sharks.

He refereed his first NRL game in 2011 after finishing up his playing days in 2007.

Perenara has also refereed matches at the Rugby League World Cup and Four Nations.

Fans paid tribute to the retiring referee on social media.

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