Super Rugby
Lam dismisses Weepu fitness fears
ESPNscrum Staff
February 19, 2012
New Zealand's Piri Weepu fizzes a pass, New Zealand v Argentina, Rugby World Cup quarter-final, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 9, 2011
Piri Weepu has been on an extended break following the World Cup © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Pat Lam | Piri Weepu
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Teams: Blues | New Zealand

Blues coach Pat Lam has dismissed fears over the fitness of halfback Piri Weepu prior to the new Super Rugby season.

The 28-year-old - who hopes to take the fly-half responsibilities with his new team - has been on an extended break since helping the All Blacks to Rugby World Cup glory in October.

Lam confirmed that he expected his All Blacks to filter back at different speeds after a long lay-off and that Weepu's quality would be vital at the sharp end of the campaign, as it was in their 29-12 trial win over the Highlanders at the weekend.

The former Hurricane took the field and created a try with an excellent pass, leaving Lam with little doubt as to his new acquisition's value.

"You can see he's short a gallop, but he showed touches of class," Lam told The Sunday Star Times. "Once he gets fully fit we're going to get the benefit of that, and through the season it's going be crucial when you've got quality in the squad.

"Obviously, these guys have had a longer break, and a lot of them have enjoyed themselves after the World Cup, and that's fine. We knew that was a possibility. For me, it's all about who performs in competition regardless of their names or what they've done.

"Piri is determined to get himself in better shape, and it's the same with some of the other guys who aren't quite there. But the acid comes on from the guys who are in good shape and you want guys pushing each other."

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