Weepu unhappy about missing test match

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 09:46 14/06/2013
Piri Weepu
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ
PIRI UNHAPPY: Piri Weepu says he was unhappy about being forced to skip the first test against France due to a head knock.

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Piri Weepu copped a knee in the head on June 1 and a week later received another blow when forced to watch the All Blacks confront France at Eden Park.

Rather than suit-up for the first test in Auckland last weekend Weepu was instructed to take a seat in the grandstand and watch as fellow halfbacks Aaron Smith and Tawera Kerr-Barlow performed the haka.

Having been knocked senseless in the Blues’ Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin, Weepu was instructed to take a break and relax following that 38-28 loss.

The message sent by the national selectors was that he would get his chance.

But that was of cold comfort to Weepu who this week said he was unhappy about being forced to skip the test.

He maintained he had not been plagued by the many of the symptoms that accompany a concussion.

There were no headaches, fuzziness or drowsiness – even though he ranked the collision as one of the worst he had experienced, even more dramatic than the one he experienced when the Hurricanes lost to the Crusaders in the 2006 final in Christchurch.

This week Weepu, 29, has got his chance.

He has been named in the reserves for tomorrow night’s match at AMI Stadium as back-up to Smith and if he takes the field will earn his70th test cap.

Given his form for the Blues – he has arguably been the form halfback of the three coach Steve Hansen has in his squad – Weepu would have reason to argue he deserved to be considered the first-string No 9.

He would have struggled to mount such an argument last year when he returned to work in poor shape after celebrating the 2011 World Cup triumph.

‘‘I sort of got slammed quite a bit about my weight issues but to be honest I didn’t really care what people had to say,’’ Weepu stated.

“I had sacrificed a lot in eight years to get where I did in 2011 and I did everything I could to make that possible. It was pretty tough.’’

The Blues’ rejuvenation and Weepu’s spike in form have been enough to silence his critics, many who have been among those hailing him this season.

“To compare this year to last year, I guess I just try to maintain how I was at the end of the year and carry that right through to now,’’ Weepu added. “And it’s been pretty good, I have enjoyed running around with all those young boys in the Blues squad.’’

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Weepu was also cautious not to slap any of the blame of the Blues’ capitulation last year on former coach Pat Lam.

While acknowledging the side had thrived under new boss John Kirwan and his coaching crew, which includes former All Blacks boss Graham Henry, he had some sympathy for Lam who was only given one assistant in Bryce Woodward.

‘‘You don’t have one coach trying to do everything. I guess that’s the hard thing we had last year. There was only two coaches in Pat and Bryce and two of them trying to do a lot of jobs.

‘‘We finally got it right at the end of the campaign when we had Jeff Wilson join the squad. I guess having that many coaches to help out and making sure they know their roles and trying not to do other people’s jobs has been really good and a lot more organised.’’

- Fairfax Media

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