Weepu chasing World Cup dream
June 3, 2010
Piri Weepu has designs on a Rugby World Cup spot © Getty Images
Piri Weepu plans to be playing his rugby in New Zealand next year as he seeks to secure his World Cup dream.
The Hurricanes halfback hinted earlier in the season that his future may lie overseas but is now "pretty sure" that he will be staying at home to fight for a place in the All Black squad for the 2011 tournament. He is out of contract at the end of the season but his agent is in talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) over a new deal.
"I still had a feeling I could stay here and try to push my case leading into next year," he said. "All those offers offshore, they are quite big, but you always have to chase the dream and the dream is to try to make the World Cup squad. You don't really want to let that chance slip."
Weepu, 26, is currently in the All Black squad preparing for Tests against Ireland and Wales, having rebuilt the bridges burned with the Test selectors following his omission from the squad for the 2007 World Cup in France.
"Obviously we had a fallout in 2007 but I don't see that as being much of a factor anymore," he said. "We get along quite well. For me, being in and out, it's just up to attitude. I've got keep the right attitude the whole time."
Weepu, who believed that he was a better bet for Maori side than the Test squad, could also provide kicking cover should Dan Carter pick up a knock. "I haven't been the best goalkicker in the 'comp' this year but I'm pretty cool under pressure," he said.
Meanwhile, Highlanders winger Ben Smith and Blues utility Rene Ranger have been called to the All Blacks' camp in Auckland as cover for Mils Muliaina and Richard Kahui.
Kahui is recovering from a chest injury while Muliaina, who is looking to return to rugby following a thumb injury, also has a calf strain. Both Smith and Ranger had earlier been named in the New Zealand Barbarians side for their forthcoming game against the Maori. Smith, 24, played his sole test against Italy in Milan last year while Ranger, 23, is uncapped.