Piri Weepu set to sign for London Welsh


London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.

It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.

Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.

Blues head coach John Kirwan has confirmed that Weepu will leave the franchise at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

“He’s been a great Blues man the last four years. He’s a fantastic team man,” said Kirwan. “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.”

London Welsh have already recruited an astonishing 20 players ahead of their return to the top league in September, and head coach Justin Burnell recently confirmed that they were in the market for at least five more. None of them are likely to be as big a name as Weepu.

Burnell recently spoke of looking to the Super 15 franchises, whose seasons are about to end, to bring in players, and with Weepu’s international career seemingly at an end (he has not played for the All Blacks since June 2013) he would be a sensible signing, given that he is unlikely to feature in the upcoming Rugby Championship.

As we await the official confirmation, what do you think of Weepu as a signing?

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

15 thoughts on “Piri Weepu set to sign for London Welsh

  1. His NZ days are surely behind him with Smith, Perenara and Kerr-Barlow probably ahead in the pecking order.

    Kudos to him for coming to the Aviva. I’m sure he could have got a pretty sweet contract in Japan or France.

    With the exception of JOC, I’m struggling to think of the last properly established SH player to come to England to play. Any ideas?

  2. His NZ days are surely behind him with Smith, Perenara and Kerr-Barlow probably ahead in the pecking order.

    Kudos to him for coming to the Aviva. I’m sure he could have got a pretty sweet contract in Japan or France.

    It’s not often we get properly established SH players coming to England to play, so I think this is pretty cool.

    1. Hayman was, what, ’07? If that’s the case then that’s shocking. There must have been more big names since then…surely?

      Oh, John Smit? He is probably the most recent.

      On “established international”, I assume that Jonny simply meant a big name, with a lot of international caps for a SH side.

      1. John Smit at Saracens is only one I can think of. Francois Louw? Or he could be seen as becoming an established player since coming to Bath.

        Oh Jimmy Cowan at gloucester- 50+ all blacks caps.

      2. Aaron Mauger at Tigers? Can’t remember how long ago that was now.

        TBH I’d put Weepu in the same category as Cowan probably – a decent ABs player, but in one of their weaker positions and one in which they now have plenty of better options.

        I expect he’ll be good but not great. Still, an impressive signing for Welsh.

  3. I think he is a good signing and London Welsh have made some other good signings but I feel they will go straight back down due to the amount of players they have signed.

    History is littered with teams being promoted to a higher division and siging a raft of players who then take to long to gel or are mercenary in their ways and before they know it they are back where they came from with most of the new players setting off into the sunset.

    It may work but it is a massivly risky strategy in my eyes.

  4. For me Weepu was a good, well rounded 1/2back. Got some NZ stick for being lazy, over weight etc, but up until the last WC he had a full range of varied skills, i.e., he could run pass & kick (incl goals), was v strong, tough & agressive. Usually, I liked his option taking which made him unpredictable.

    His goal kicking fell off during the 2011 WC, but he was the AB 1st choice in the final.

    Thought he was dicarded a bit prematurely as he’s still only 30, esp as guys like Nonu, McCaw, Carter etc are current ABs.

    Maybe his game’s gone off a bit? Dunno, don’t/didn’t see him play often enough to make a balanced judgement.

    However, I hope he makes a go of it @ Welsh. He has plenty exp & it may give him a new lease of life there.

    As for the mercenary stuff, many/most Prem teams have/have had o/seas players, e.g., Nick Evans @ Quins, the aforementioned Louw & Butch James of Bath, Glen Jackson, Michael Linagh @ Sarracens plus Leicester have had a raft; Castro, Hamilton, Waldrom, Ayerza, Newby etc, etc (ok, not all est Int’als), but are all these mercenaries? It seems to me that, by & large, they’ve put up.

    1. I don’t think anyone has used the word mercenaries at all. If a player was a mercenary then he is choosing the wrong league by coming to the Premiership. Any player who has moved simply for the money will end up in Japan or France.

      The above comments are more surprised a the relative lack of top stars coming to the Premiership, which is not surprising, us English think are league is awesome and everyone should want to play here!

      In all seriousness; mercenaries has nothing to do with it, so I don’t know why that has been brought into consideration. Massively unfair to list the players above in that way. Nick Evans, for example, turned down a host of French offers 12 months ago to stay at Quins, for what I assume, is a lot less money.

    2. You have misconstrued the mercenary comment, it was not aimed at foriegn players at all nor was that mentioned.

      If I use football as an example QPR got promoted they signed a load of players, got relegated and said players left I think if a team is good enough to get you promoted then stick with the nucleus of the team and sign some big names to bolster the squad not sign a new first 15 and a bench of subs.

      As i said its a risky strategy and what is the likeliness of the bigger name players wanting to play in the Championship? Not very high.

  5. Mr B

    U used the ‘M’ word in what I assumed was a rugger context, but if not fair doos.

    Ironically I lived in Shepherds bush for some yrs in the 70s & did actually follow Rangers when Gerry Francis, Stan Bowles, Dave Thomas, Don Givens, Don Masson, Mickey Leach, Dave Webb, Frank McClintock, Ian Gillard, Dave Clement & Phil Parkes all played there… & not a mercenary in sight in those days. Almost won the league in 75/76? Pity Nick Evans wasn’t playing for them then.


    I think Leicester esp come pretty near to the ‘M’ bone tho when you look @ the no. of o/seas players they’ve had on their roster over the yrs.

  6. Jamie

    Interesting concept, ‘great’. How is a ‘great’ player defined? Some are called ‘great’, but I often wonder what criteria are used. IMO, it’s often as much down to a pundit’s opinion as to the ‘reality’ of ‘greatness’.

    Likewise, how do you define a ‘decent’ player? And also how do you define ‘one of their (AB) weaker (1/2back) positions as the stated AB 1/2s seemed pretty effective in their fundamental tasks to me?

    IMO Marshall and Kellaher were pretty ‘decent’, or ‘effective’ 1/2s, based on my seeing how they got their backlines moving & with their option taking, i.e. whether to pass (accurately; a must surely), run or kick.

    Arron Smith seems sharpe of mind & deed in taking the aforementioned options. On the other hand he’s a 1/2 pint compared to the physical presence of Kelleher. Smith is pretty effective for sure, but Kelleher had it over him in making a direct impact on the opposition & by drawing them to him thereby leaving gaps further out, esp in the opponent’s 22.

    Not so straight forward perhaps this ‘great’ thing?

  7. It does seem that some of the comments following on from London Welsh’s deserved victory over Bristol, are seeming a little mis-placed now.

    Much was made then, not from the club itself, but from some commentators and plenty across social media, of the home-grown, under-funded, spirited under dogs prevailing over the free spending Bristol “millionaires”.

    It seems to me though, that recruiting a higher calibre of player is a necessity for teams wishing to survive, or even thrive, in the Premiership.

    That said, surely it is better (if one can afford it) to recruit whilst still in the Championship, so that when(if) the promotion is achieved, the Premiership campaign can be approached with a relatively settled team. It is a very difficult job that London Welsh now have on their hands.

    Many players who worked so hard to obtain promotion will be either jettisoned or marginalised, whilst the imports will no doubt take time to settle successfully.

    Lastly, isn’t it ironic that so many Welsh players are joining Bristol?

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