Weepu unfazed by new five-second rule

TOBY ROBSON IN EDINBURGH
Last updated 10:54 08/11/2012
Piri Weepu
Photosport
READY TO GO: Piri Weepu doesn't think the new five-second rule will too much of an issue should he get a run against Scotland.

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Piri Weepu doesn't think his first real experience of rugby's new five-second rule will be an issue should he get a run against Scotland on Monday morning (NZT).

Of the three halfbacks in the All Blacks touring squad Weepu has the potential to be tested most by the new law requiring the ball to be promptly cleared from rucks and mauls.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow has had a full season with Waikato to get used to the change, while the thought of Aaron Smith taking more than a split second seems ridiculous.

Weepu though has been known over the years to take his time in marshalling his attackers before clearing static phase ball and admitted he'd had little or no real experience of the new law.

"I had a run around during ITM Cup, but never really got a fair understanding of what the rules were," he said today. "But we had a pretty good explanation last week to us from [referee] Garratt [Williamson] so I think the boys are pretty well prepared on what to expect on Sunday afternoon (local time).

"We like to speed the game up anyway. We have a bit of a rule [already] that the ball's not there for more than five seconds and that we will get there and clear it so I don't think it will play much part in the game."

Weepu has looked trim and sharp in training this week and said competition in the squad had created plenty of energy.

"There definitely will be boys fighting for positions in the next couple of weeks. Everything will be one the line for the majority of this squad."

While unsure what role he'd play in the tour opener, he made no made no secret of his desire to make his first test start since the 21-11 win over the Springboks in Dunedin on September 20.

"I know personally its not very nice just watching a game. It's always good to be involved. Everyone wants to be out on the field. These next two weeks everyone will be playing their best rugby."

The 29-year-old said he was enjoying the dynamic of having three halfbacks in the squad the youthful enthusiasm of his two rivals Kerr-Barlow and incumbent Smith.

"Yep I have actually. It's been good having the young boys. I remember when I first came into a campaign like this in 2004 you had a guy like Bryon Kelleher.

"He'd been around for a while and learning a lot off him really helped. Hopefully with them pushing me I can also help and give them advice."

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Weepu has fond memories of Murrayfield having won at the stadium twice in 2005 and 2008 when he was among the try scorers during a 32-6 win.

Whatever the scoreline, he was expecting a tough match in front of a sell out crowd.

"Most people expect us to run over the Scottish team, but it's never like that. Every game's a fight, nothing's ever handed to you and we are definitely preparing for a fight with the Scottish boys."

That could present a challenge for a number of All Blacks short on recent match play and Weepu is one of them, having not taken the field since his 21 minute cameo during the 18-18 draw with the Wallabies in Brisbane three weeks ago.

"I've just got to try to keep working hard. You've got to make the most of the opportunity. I'm pretty sure anyone that gets given an opportunity to be in the position to start or be involved in the team... Whether you're out there for one minute or 80 minutes you've got to do everything to help the team out."

- The Dominion Post

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