Piri Weepu might pause for reflection today as he digests the contrasting fortunes of his current and former sides.
One of Wellington's favourite sons was left blaming himself for the Blues' loss to the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Friday night.
"It's tough. Personally I felt I've let the team down," he offered, citing a late kick that gave up possession during the 26-25 win and earlier missing a tackle on Cory Jane.
Even if he overplayed his culpability, it was impossible to escape the symbolism of Weepu's frustration after being part of a Blues side which look a bit like the Hurricanes did last year.
"We didn't play to the final whistle and those guys did and you can't take anything away from them," Weepu said. "People had written them off and they may not have showed a lot of promise in pre-seasons, but the competition's different. I take my hat off to them."
To suggest the Hurricanes are a vastly better side than the injury-ravaged Blues they beat is a wistful notion. So too is the idea that two errors separated two similarly talented sides, though one wonders if the World Cup-fit Weepu would have been more accurate.
The difference was the intangible unity that has been built in a Hurricanes side that was smiling together as much before kickoff at Eden Park as they were after the win.
The difference was lock Jeremy Thrush's desperate dive to swat a loose ball away from the touchline on the stroke of halftime, an act that led to Conrad Smith's first try. It was Andre Taylor chasing his own kick to trap Lachie Munro when it seemed nothing was on.
And it was Brad Shields turning the three turnovers of the man he'd replaced Faifili Levave, into seven combined for the blindsides by the end.
There is a school of thought Weepu might consider coming "home" to the Hurricanes next year to be closer to his two young daughters. He's signed for just one year with the Blues and would presumably be welcomed back into the fold.
If he did, he would find far more important things than the playing personnel has changed since he left.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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