A heart condition has prompted Auckland-born NRL referee Henry Perenara to retire at the age of 40.

A heart condition has prompted Auckland-born NRL referee Henry Perenara to retire at the age of 40.

Perenara, who played one test for the Kiwis in 2001, has been an NRL referee since 2011, after playing 72 first grade matches in the NRL for five clubs.

He is a cousin of All Blacks TJ Perenara and Sonny Bill Williams.

Perenara has been diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heartbeat that causes shortness of breath, dizziness sweating or fainting, The Daily Telegraph reported.

He almost collapsed at training a week ago, Perenara told the newspaper. At times his heart raced to about 230 beats per minute.

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, but a fit athlete might be closer to 40 beats per minute.

“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.”

He said he had battled the disease for almost 15 years. At times it struck during games.

“I just kept pushing through it. 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.”

A cardiologist diagnosed him in February and put him on medication, which made him lethargic. He quit after two months.

In 2020, Perenara was the first NRL referee to send off a player for an alleged bite, when he red-carded Kevin Proctor when the Cronulla Sharks played against the Gold Coast Titans.

He made his international refereeing debut in 2011 when New Zealand played the Cook Islands in a one-off test match in Rarotonga.

He had made his NRL first grade debut as a referee in the Roosters-Raiders match earlier that year.

He will still work in the bunker and help coach junior refs.

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