Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Weepu helps rev team up

Captain Luke Braid was in no doubt the Piri Weepu's health scare added to the motivation.
Captain Luke Braid was in no doubt the Piri Weepu's health scare added to the motivation.

Halfback Bryn Hall played a starring role for the Blues as they avenged their week one defeat to the Highlanders, but the influence of Piri Weepu on the team can't be under-estimated.

Weepu, diagnosed at the end of the week with a hole in his heart following his stroke, was in the changing room before the match doing what he could to prepare the team and captain Luke Braid was in no doubt the 30-year-old's health scare added to the motivation.

"The team has got a whole heap of respect for Piri," he said. "Before the game we were just looking at each other, the emotion was there, we just really wanted to get out and play for him. He motivated the boys a lot to go out there and go hard."

Hall, in his first start for the Blues, carried on the form he showed in South Africa when up against All Blacks counterpart Aaron Smith.

His passing was sound, his kicking good, and his run to set up Nonu's try late in the first half was outstanding. His 49 metres in possession were the highest among the Blues and second in the game behind Highlanders fullback Ben Smith's 89 metres.

"I'm really proud of what Bryn has achieved," coach John Kirwan said. "He has worked really hard this year. He had a bad season last year with injury [broken jaw] and health issues [glandular fever]. He's just worked really hard on his game. His pass is really crisp. He's not forcing the game, he's letting the game come to him and taking opportunities when they're there."


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