Lam dismisses Weepu fitness fears
February 19, 2012
Piri Weepu has been on an extended break following the World Cup © Getty Images
Blues coach Pat Lam has dismissed fears over the fitness of halfback Piri Weepu prior to the new Super Rugby season.
The 28-year-old - who hopes to take the fly-half responsibilities with his new team - has been on an extended break since helping the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory in October.
Lam confirmed that he expected his All Blacks to filter back at different speeds after a long lay-off and that Weepu's quality would be vital at the sharp end of the campaign, as it was in their 29-12 trial win over the Highlanders at the weekend.
The former Hurricane took the field and created a try with an excellent pass, leaving Lam with little doubt as to his new acquisition's value.
"You can see he's short a gallop, but he showed touches of class," Lam told The Sunday Star Times. "Once he gets fully fit we're going to get the benefit of that, and through the season it's going be crucial when you've got quality in the squad.
"Obviously, these guys have had a longer break, and a lot of them have enjoyed themselves after the World Cup, and that's fine. We knew that was a possibility. For me, it's all about who performs in competition regardless of their names or what they've done.
"Piri is determined to get himself in better shape, and it's the same with some of the other guys who aren't quite there. But the acid comes on from the guys who are in good shape and you want guys pushing each other."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby
Tom Hamilton looks at the implications of Ulster's state of upheaval on the Ireland team