Celebration, not motivation for Weepu
It’s not personal, but it will be memorable for Piri Weepu when he racks up his Super Rugby century against the team he played the majority of those games for in Wellington on Saturday night.
The World Cup-winning halfback chose his words carefully after he was named to start at halfback for the Blues against the Hurricanes in a season-opening game that will mark his 100th Super Rugby appearance.
He will be the second most experienced Blues player on the field, behind skipper Ali Williams, and the guiding force of a starting backline that includes one debutant (Frank Halai) and three others (Francis Saili, George Moala and Charles Piutau) vwith scant experience at this level.
Weepu said the fact that the game was against the team he left at the end of the 2011 season did not so much provide extra motivation as cause for celebration.
“The majority of those boys I played half my career with and it’s pretty tough seeing them on the other side of the field,” he said yesterday.
“You’re there purely focused on your job and the motivation is within yourself to go out and play good and not because it’s against your old team-mates or in front of your old fans.
“I want to make sure I’m doing my job on the field, leading my team the way I’m supposed to lead them.
“I wouldn’t say it’s personal. I just think it’s lucky that I get to share my 100th with those boys.
“Everything started down there with Wellington and it to have my family there to support me and share what will be a touching moment is pretty priceless.”
Kirwan said his young Blues side would be challenged right across the park by a dangerous Hurricanes outfit.
“The Hurricanes are an incredibly potent attacking side, they’ve strengthened their front row with Ben Franks,” he said. “We will have to be complete across the park, and that’s what this competition is like.
“We can’t have turnover ball -- they score from turnovers. They’re unpredictable, our defence will have to be tight and then we have to throw stuff at them.”