The halfback has had a tough battle with injury and selection, but says he is almost back to top form.

He had to change. It has been a battle and there have been times when All Black Piri Weepu has sulked about footy and life.

He struggled to warm to the team ethics when his name was missing from the All Blacks selection sheet. It still hurts but Weepu has learned to hide - and to ride - those emotions more.

Halfback starts have come in about 40 per cent of his 52 tests, but the way he performed in that role against France on Saturday suggests he may have nudged to the front to start in the playoffs.

Whatever the outcome, Weepu spoke yesterday about the challenges of staying buoyant when selection did not fall his way.


"If you let things like that play on your mind then you're not going to be motivated enough to help out the team during the week," said Weepu, who led the haka on Saturday.

Weepu and the rest of the All Blacks have gathered in Wellington before their final pool match against Canada there on Sunday.

"There's a couple of boys who haven't had the chance to put on the jersey yet, so their motivation is to still be the same person they were the first week," he said.

"If you aren't playing that week you've just got to make sure you can still get in a good hit-out that resembles the qualities of running out and playing a test."

Three All Blacks have yet to have a run in this World Cup. Fullback Mils Muliaina was set to add to his 98 tests in Hamilton until he twinged a hamstring, Zac Guildford has not been required on the wing and Kieran Read is expected to return this week against Canada after his leg injury.

Conversely, Richard Kahui, Ma'a Nonu, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks and Tony Woodcock are the only players to have started all three World Cup tests.

Kahui will not continue that run this week after damaging a hamstring against France, but there are encouraging medical reports on the other injured players, Israel Dagg, Cory Jane and Adam Thomson.

Injury was Weepu's great drama after he broke his ankle before last year's tour to Europe and he only just got back into action at the tail end of the Super 15.

He feels he is getting near some of the form he was showing before his accident.

"I don't think I'm that far off," he said. "I was pretty quick at the start of the game [against France] and thought I probably could have stayed on a bit longer, but I was pretty happy with the game time that I got.

"It has been tough. But from where I was last year to where I am now I think it's a huge improvement."

Weepu had felt uneasy about his chances of being picked for the World Cup squad. But now, even though he dislikes the pain, he appreciates the gains he has made with the All Black training and nutrition staff.

He's uncertain whether the team announcement this week will place him in the No9 jersey or No19 on the bench, or leave him seated in the grandstand.

"I'm not too sure. Obviously there's still a few things I need to work on.

"But all three of us have been playing particularly well and hopefully we've made the coaches' job a lot harder than it was before," he said.

The World Cup mood had seeped into the squad as much as it had through the bulk of the country, Weepu said, and that gave the All Blacks a great buzz.