PIRI WEEPU is more than happy to provide impact off the bench for the All Blacks this season.
The chunky Wellington halfback cast aside concerns over his fitness with an eye-catching cameo off the bench against Fiji in his first test since a serious leg injury.
He looks set to sit behind halfback Jimmy Cowan when the team to play the Springboks in Wellington is announced tomorrow morning.
However, while he would like to be starting, he doesn’t mind coming off the bench in the latter stages.
“For myself, if it's coming off the bench and trying to help the speed of the game or attacking weaknesses once players start getting tired then I'll certainly do my best,” he told reporters yesterday.
"Of course each player wants [to start], but each opportunity you get you just have to be grateful and if I end up coming off the bench, then I have to make the most of the time. I just have to do my best to help the team.”
After months of gruelling rehabilitation, the 45-test veteran is taking nothing for granted as the All Blacks edge closer to the Rugby World Cup.
“You can't look too far ahead of yourself, because if we do that we lose focus on what's in front of us and things can spiral downhill. Most of the focus is staying in the now.
“It's been a long road to recovery, and getting back out on the field so I'm just humbled enough to be involved in the squad.
“I've got a few things I'm still working hard at in the background, but I'd say I'm more comfortable [where I am] at this stage.”
While he says he hasn’t given up on a starting role, he is more focused at the moment on performing his core roles and getting the basics right.
“With every opportunity you get you have to try and impress each time. My favourite term my brother always uses is head down, arse up, which means get in there and do the hard work.
"Hopefully that pays off and you get the opportunity you want [to start]. I'm slowly getting back into things and catching up to these boys.
"I can say the progress is going well and the test against Fiji was a pretty good run for myself in terms of fitness levels and getting the feel of the international scene again."
Weepu confirmed he has still not re-signed with the Hurricanes.
"I've got a few options that I've got to go over and have a couple of talks to the coaches about things and then go from there."« Back to Articles
This weekend throws up another set of games which could go either way.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?