Weepu: Why I am moving
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:56
It's massive statement of intent
It may not exactly be 'breaking news', but All Black and World Cup-winning scrumhalf Piri Weepu's departure from New Zealand to the Premiership in England has been confirmed.
London Welsh formally announced that Weepu will join up with the Exiles ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Capped 71 times by New Zealand in an international career spanning from 2004 to 2013, the 30-year-old is moving to England from the Blues.
Weepu scored 103 points in his All Black career and played a leading role in New Zealand's 2011 World Cup success, particularly in their knock-out victories over Australia and Argentina, when he was man of the match.
However, his decision to sign for the Oxford-based club will signal an end to his international career as the All Blacks have a policy of not selecting players based outside New Zealand.
"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 teammates, and helping the club re-establish itself in the top flight and in Oxford."
Weepu joined the Blues for the 2012 Super Rugby campaign, after eight seasons with the Hurricanes while, at provincial level, he played for Auckland and Wellington.
He made his senior New Zealand debut in 2004 against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with cap No.71 coming against France in June, 2013.
Weepu will join up with promoted London Welsh at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign and could form a halfback partnership with England flyhalf Olly Barkley.
London Welsh head coach Justin 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."
Weepu has fallen down the All Blacks' pecking order to rivals such as Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara, and has little hope of playing in next year's World Cup.
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