Headaches concerned Blues No 9 Piri Weepu
It takes a lot to knock Piri Weepu off his stride, but three weeks of persistent and unnerving headaches have certainly done that.
The Blues halfback has spoken for the first time about the puzzling headaches that have dogged him this Super Rugby season and eventually forced him to share his concerns with his 106,000 followers on Twitter.
Weepu had scans on Monday that have somewhat alleviated his worries but the World Cup-winning All Black admitted yesterday he'd been unnerved by the sustained nature of the problem.
His tweet which went out late on Sunday read: "Big morning tomo! Bit nervous/scared bout tomo!! Hopefully it's good news about my scan. Unreal to think something major could be wrong"
Weepu yesterday described the problem, which first surfaced the day the Blues left for South Africa on March 1, as more "niggly" than debilitating.
"I've basically been able to play through it," he said. "The headaches are not painful, just annoying. During the week sometimes if I have bad ones I've just got to lie down and give myself a bit of time off, or just sit down and take a breath, try to ease up a bit, then I'm fine after that.
"When it comes to games I basically go straight into auto-pilot."
But Weepu, who has played 71 tests for the All Blacks, admitted he'd had to deal with the headaches around games as well.
"They're not full-on ones, they're just niggly ones and you go 'can this just go away'."
Weepu said the day the Blues left for South Africa he felt "pretty out of it" and shared his concerns with team doctor Stephen Kara. "I was wondering 'what the heck is going on?' I thought it might have been a delayed concussion kind of thing. He said it wasn't, he basically said it was a bad case of migraines. I was quite puzzled."
Given the concerns in all football codes at the moment around concussion, Weepu said it was reassuring to be told his problems are not related to a known head knock in the game.
In terms of ongoing treatment or restrictions, he said it's pretty much business as usual. "If I need a panadol I tell Doc, other than that I'm trying not to worry about it so much, except for when you get told to go for a scan."
Weepu said the feedback he got from his Twitter followers had been overwhelming and he intended to reply to as many as he could.
"I didn't expect that, I was just getting scared for myself. I was nervous," he said.
"Some people use their Twitter as a release, not to get opinions or anything, just to get things off their mind. I was pretty grateful a lot of people were worried."
Weepu has started every game for the Blues thus far as they've won two and lost three, and is almost certain to be required for duty again on Saturday night when they host the Highlanders at Eden Park, with backup N 9 Jamison Gibson-Park still injured.
Coach Sir John Kirwan said he had nothing but admiration for the way his 30-year-old halfback had battled through his issues.
"It's been weighing on his mind as well and he's still been playing to a real high level," Kirwan said yesterday.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure he's well, and if he doesn't feel up to playing he shouldn't play.
"But he keeps getting out there and wants to be out there for the boys. That's good courage, and great work."
Dr Kara said it was not known what had triggered the headaches but said it was not related to any head knocks that they knew of.
Kirwan gave a strong indication yesterday that All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino were both likely to step in for their first starts of the season on Saturday night.
"They're ready to go. They probably won't last 80, but they're certainly available for selection and they'll go pretty close."