Piri Weepu signs two-year contract with Blues
DAVID LONG AND LIAM NAPIER
Piri Weepu has re-signed with the Blues to play for them and Auckland for the next two years.
Weepu came to the Blues from the Hurricanes on a one-year deal for this season, joining his good friend Ma'a Nonu.
While Nonu's deal with the Blues was for two years, there had been speculation about where Weepu would end up next year, especially as rumours surfaced midway through the Super Rugby season that he was homesick for Wellington.
In April Weepu opened the door to a return to the Hurricanes and the team's coach Mark Hammett accepted the halfback's request for a meeting.
In the end it came to nothing and Weepu will join Nonu in working alongside incoming Blues coach John Kirwan next season.
While Weepu turned up out of shape at the beginning of the season, he worked hard to lose weight and, by the end of the campaign, had turned his form around after having stringent fitness requirements put on him by All Blacks' management.
Securing Weepu is a significant part of Kirwan's plans for next season, especially as the likes of Jerome Kaino, Tevita Mailau, Lachie Munro, Benson Stanley, Chris Lowrey and Isaia Toeava have all moved on.
Kirwan is delighted to have the services of two key All Blacks.
“I'm excited about it,” he said. “They are two X-factor players and I'm really glad they are here. They are a huge part of the future.”
Kirwan wasn't sure whether Nonu had negotiated another leave option, but if the 30-year-old plays Super Rugby next year it will be in a Blues jersey.
“Nonu might have an out clause. The All Blacks have sabbaticals in their contracts.
“But he is contracted through to next year at the Blues,” Kirwan said.
It remains to be seen where Weepu will play for the Blues next season though.
Initially he was brought in as someone who would be playing first-five and halfback as the franchise already had a quality No 9 in Alby Mathewson.
Weepu did play a few games early in the season at first-five but over the second part of the campaign played exclusively at halfback. So much so that the team's coach Pat Lam brought in the veteran Orene Ai'i to cover first-five when Gareth Anscombe picked up a season ending injury.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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