All Black halfback Piri Weepu looks to pass as Scotland
players challenge during their test at Murrayfield Stadium
in Edinburgh. REUTERS/David Moir
Nobody was exaggerating about Piri Weepu as we waited for
a strong performance.
Maybe he likes the suspense, enjoys watching others fret
about his performance, or genuinely could not kick his game
up a gear.
That was until yesterday at Murrayfield when he played a
significant role in the All Blacks' 51-22 victory to maintain
their unbeaten history against Scotland.
Since his World Cup work more than a year ago, Weepu has been
on a rocky rugby journey. Sure, he was still an All Black but
that selection was lineball and an act of faith from a panel
who believed they could trim the halfback down and supersize
his skills again.
It has taken some time but perhaps the 67-test veteran got
over the hump at Murrayfield.
He had just his second test start this year and for an hour
he ran with the heart of an athlete and played for the team
and with his instincts. He dug deep, he made the rucks, he
whipped out streams of passes and still had time for a
playful running dodge or two.
"I thought it was the best game I have seen him play for a
long time," backs coach Ian Foster said.
"The things that he has been working on, he did very well. He
was quick to the ruck, we have known that if he is quick to
the ruck and clears the ball well then the rest of his game
and his natural decision-making has always been outstanding."
Several All Black tries were the result of Weepu reading the
defence and reacting to it.
The halfback looked weary later under the grandstand as he
talked about the test but he claimed he had a sore back.
His own counsel had been not to think too much, just play.
"I think if anyone goes out there and play then everything is
clear and you know what you are doing.
"If you go out there and complicate things by thinking about
what you are going to do next, then it can get on top of you
and put you off your game a bit. So just go out there and
The first half had been quite aerobic and at times the All
Blacks had been under the pump. However when they got the
basics right they were able to dominate the test once more.
When they played how they had practised, their patterns
started to flourish.
Scotland were very physical, that was no surprise. They were
one of the few sides in Europe who liked to play with the
ball and did not kick away much possession.
Weepu hoped he had given the selectors a decent reminder of
his pedigree and now it was up to them and Aaron Smith this
week against Italy.
"It was just me trying to repay the faith they have shown in
me. It might have taken half the season for me to repay them
but I am happy they have given me the opportunity and I have
made the most of it."
Weepu had some goals on this tour. He had ticked one box
against Scotland, now there were others. He had made a start,
he felt good - he wanted to play more rugby.
- By Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald in Edinburgh