Rugby: Weepu homesick and blue

Homesick . . . Piri Weepu.
Homesick . . . Piri Weepu.
Add another to World Cup hero Piri Weepu's list of problems: homesickness.

The under-fire Blues halfback has battled weight and form problems since joining the Blues this year.

Weepu and Ma'a Nonu's moves to the Blues were heralded as the missing pieces that could take the team from semifinalists last year to champions. Reality has proved sobering.

Weepu returned to duty well-summered, missed a drop-kick in his first outing that could have won the game and things have steadily slipped south since, literally and metaphorically.

Weepu has now played twice for his old club Wainuiomata, something which has been raising eyebrows and one or two hackles at his new club.

To be available for Auckland in the ITM Cup, Weepu must be affiliated to an Auckland club.

He was assigned to the small merger team in Auckland's industrial heartland, Te Papapa-Mt Wellington.

His arrival was announced in a newsletter sent out to members in March.

"For those who have not caught up with news we extend a very warm welcome to Piri Weepu and his family who will be joining the Te Papapa-Mt Wellington Club for the 2012 season,'' it said.

Asked how Weepu had settled into the club, deputy chairman Gary Froggatt said: "We haven't seen him yet.''

Froggatt, who is the club's delegate on the Auckland Rugby Union, said Weepu's southern games had been a topic of conversation over the weekend but his club had been given an explanation.

"The union rang us about him and apparently he's homesick, so we're quite happy for him to play there if he needs to get into that space.''

His measured tones are not shared by everyone at the club.

An anonymous supporter emailed the Herald, saying: "Who is running the ship? Weepu is signed with Te Papapa-Mt Wellington under the ARFU player placement rules and ends up playing club rugby in Wellington. A very annoyed ... supporter.''

ARU club rugby operations manager Matt McHardy said Weepu needed only to be registered to a club to play for Auckland.

He was being allowed to play for Wainuiomata for compassionate reasons.

"He's got young family down there at the moment and they're not that well, so he's been going down as much as he can.

"That's why he's had a couple of games down there.''

- Dylan Cleaver

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