Rugby: Weepu heading offshore

Piri Weepu. Photo / APN
Piri Weepu. Photo / APN

One of the cult heroes of the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup winning side is parting ways with New Zealand rugby.

Piri Weepu has signed a two year contract with English side London Welsh and will join the recently promoted club in September.

The former All Blacks halfback played 71 tests, but hasn't donned the black jersey in over a year.

The 30-year-old has played over 11 seasons of Super Rugby, eight of those at the Hurricanes before moving to the Blues.

Weepu, playing in his third and final season with the Blues, was diagnosed with a hole in his heart after suffering a stroke earlier in the season. He had surgery and returned to the field weeks later.

He made his All Blacks debut in 2004 against Wales in Cardiff before missing out on the 2007 Rugby World Cup squad.

He was a vital member of the 2011 winning squad however, taking over the kicking duties after Dan Carter and Colin Slade suffering tournament ending injuries.

Weepu kicked seven from eight in the quarter-final win over Argentina, followed by a further four penalties in the 20-6 semifinal win over Australia. His last test was against France in New Plymouth last season.

Piri Weepu kicked seven from eight in the quarter-final win over Argentina. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Weepu captained the All Blacks on one occasion, a famous 18-16 near upset against Munster in Limerick in 2008. Weepu battled Byron Kelleher for the All Blacks nine jersey for the first four years of his test career before Jimmy Cowan and Andy Ellis came into the fold. With constant competition at halfback, Weepu started just 25 of his 71 tests with 46 appearances from the bench.

He played in one Super Rugby final but said he can't remember it after being concussed in the Hurricanes 2006 fog-final defeat to the Crusaders.

- With Newstalk ZB

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