Mocked earlier this year for his weight and poor
performances for the Blues, Piri Weepu looks like he has
saved his best form in 2012 until last, writes Wynne Gray in
It's hard to be certain, but Piri Weepu looks as though
he may have shed a kilo or two.
His face looks a little more pinched and that's nothing to do
with his media duties or possible confrontation with Scotland
on Monday (NZT).
If it's true, Weepu must have been keeping a serious rein on
his food intake and knuckled down to regular training as he
eyes the inroads Aaron Smith has made at halfback this year
with Tawera Kerr-Barlow chasing as well.
Weepu's only international start this season came because
Smith broke a team rule and was benched for the Dunedin test
against the Springboks.
But he is back with the squad in Europe, waiting to add to
his 66 caps and leave a strong end of year impression.
One of next year's Blues staff will be a keen observer.
Skills coach Mick Byrne will be ready to nudge the nuggety
halfback if he starts to slip back into his comfort patterns
as the colder weather bites.
It has been tough this week with some strong winds upsetting
the players' rhythm and putting a premium on the passing and
kicking skills of men like Weepu.
He ran around a few times in ITM Cup training but, like most
in the squad, has not played under the new rules, like the
five second use-it-or-lose-it ruck requirement.
"We had a good explanation to us last week from [referee]
Garratt [Williamson] so I think the boys are pretty well
prepared," Weepu said.
All year the All Blacks had played as if the ball could not
sit at the back of the ruck so that law change should not
"We like to speed the game up anyway. We have got a bit of a
rule that the ball is not there for longer than five seconds
so the quicker we get there and clear it the better. I don't
think it is going to have much effect on the game."
Murrayfield holds warm memories for Weepu, even if the first
time he played there it was bitterly cold in 2005.
"A lot of people expect us to run over the Scottish team," he
said, "but it is never like that. Every game is a fight.
Nothing is ever handed to you and we will definitely be in
for a fight against these Scottish boys."
The next two tests were important selection times for every
member of the squad.
"I know it is not very nice just watching a game. It's always
good to be involved and these next two weeks, everyone will
be playing their best rugby," Weepu added.
His spirits were always stronger if he was starting. That
gave him an edge and a lift but, if that was not the case, he
had to do everything he could to assist the starting