Piri Weepu signs for London Welsh
July 11, 2014
Piri Weepu is a massive coup for London Welsh © Getty Images
London Welsh have pulled off a massive transfer coup with the signing of 30-year-old World Cup-winner Piri Weepu.
London Welsh only knew of their promotion to the top-flight on June 4. Since then they have bolstered their squad with 21 players with the likes of Olly Barkley, Dean Schofield and Tim Molenaar arriving alongside Argentinean prop Pablo Henn.
Weepu's decision to sign for the club will signal an end to his international career as the All Blacks have a policy of not selecting players based outside New Zealand.
Capped 71 times by New Zealand between 2004 and 2013, he is moving to England from Super Rugby side the Blues. Weepu scored 103 points in his All Blacks career and played a leading role in New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup success, particularly in their knockout victories over Australia and Argentina, when he was Man of the Match.
"I'm hugely excited by the opportunity of joining London Welsh and at the challenge of playing in the Premiership - consistently one of the best leagues in world rugby," said Weepu. "London Welsh is an iconic and globally recognised brand in the rugby world and I'm looking forward to linking up with head coach Justin Burnell and my new London Welsh team-mates, and helping the club re-establish itself in the top flight and in Oxford."
Burnell said: "It doesn't get much better than being a World Cup winner with 71 caps for the All Blacks - it's a signing that speaks for itself. It's massive statement of intent from the club in regard to its drive to be able to compete in the Premiership next season, and not just survive.
"It's also going to be a fantastic opportunity for the younger players within our squad to mix and learn from a player of Piri's experience and ability. As a player, his skill set is unbelievable; his kicking game and tactical appreciation are tremendous. After meeting with him in Singapore at the Club 10s, his personality and aura is such that it will be second nature for him to fit in to the environment we've created at London Welsh."
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan paid tribute to Weepu's influence at both club and national level in New Zealand.
"He's been a great Blues man the last four years. He's a fantastic team man," Kirwan said. "He really cares about the players around him. He will be a big loss for us. We were keen for him to stay but we understand fully. He's had a couple of options on the go.
"He's been a great servant of the game. It's great for him to go overseas and get a new experience. He's helped us win a World Cup. He's been a great All Black. It's a good natural progression that he rolls on. He'll be remembered fondly. We'll all miss him. He's a special man."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales