Auckland name Piri Weepu among 10 Blues
August 6, 2013
Piri Weepu enjoyed a strong season for the Blues © Getty Images
Auckland coach Wayne Pivac is buoyed by the availability of Piri Weepu among 10 Blues Super Rugby players in his squad to contest the ITM Cup. The veteran scrum-half 's axing from the All Blacks squad for The Rugby Championship freed him to be added to the squad as Auckland seek to go one better than last year, when they lost the premiership final 31-18 to Canterbury.
"Piri obviously wasn't in our initial planning so to have him in the team is an added bonus," Pivac said. "The experience he brings will definitely come in handy with a young first five-eighth in Simon Hickey outside of him."
Hickey is one of four New Zealand Under-20 players in the squad, alongside No.8 Joe Edwards, wing Lolagi Visinia and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
Midfield back Hadleigh Parkes assumes the captaincy from departed flanker Daniel Braid, having played for Southern Kings in the South African team's inaugural Super Rugby campaign.
Luke Braid, the younger brother of Daniel, has shifted from Bay of Plenty while Auckland also get the services of Tasman prop Sam Prattley. They are among 10 Blues players named, along with Chiefs prop Pauliasi Manu.
Four players weren't considered because of injury, namely wingers Albert Nikoro (knee), Ben Lam (foot) and Dave Thomas (shoulder), and Chiefs fullback/ five-eighth Gareth Anscombe (shoulder). All Blacks squad members Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau were also unavailable, due to Test commitments.
Auckland open their campaign against North Harbour on August 18.
Auckland: Tom McCartney (Pakuranga), Gafatasi Su'a (Ponsonby), Nathan Vella (Grammar Carlton), Pauliasi Manu (University), Angus Ta'avao (Marist), Sam Prattley (Pakuranga), Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Grammar Carlton), Liaki Moli (Manukau Rovers), Patrick Tuipulotu (Ponsonby), Jack Whetton (Grammar Carlton), Joe Edwards (Pakuranga), So'otala Fa'aso'o (Grammar Carlton), Luke Braid (University), Sean Polwart (University), Sean Brookman (University), Peter Saili (Marist), Piri Weepu (Maungarua), Junior Poluleuligaga (Papatoetoe), Wayne Ngaluafe (Ponsonby), Simon Hickey (Grammar Carlton), Malakai Fekitoa (Pakuranga), Hadleigh Parkes (Grammar Carlton), Vince Aso (Ponsonby), George Moala (Grammar Carlton), Tenina Sauileoge (Papatoetoe), Saleaula Silipa (Pakuranga), Lolagi Visinia (Suburbs).