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Wairarapa-Bush in talks to get Piri Weepu

Could Piri Weepu turn out in green and red this season? PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

By Gary Caffell

Wairarapa-Bush could be about to score a major coup leading into their 2017 Heartland championship rugby campaign through the acquisition of former All Black halfback Piri Weepu.

While neither Wairarapa-Bush CEO Tony Hargood or Heartland head coach Joe Harwood were prepared to make any comment on Weepu’s availability yesterday Hargood did confirm he was having “discussions” with the player whose 71 caps for the All Blacks included being part of the squad which won the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

“We’re optimistic but we will be a lot wiser by the end of this week,” Hargood said.

Weepu, a stalwart of the Hurricanes Super rugby franchise before joining up with the Blues, left the latter at the end of the 2014 season to link up with English club, London Welsh, and after being released by them the following year joined another high-profile English club, the Wasps, on a short-term deal.

From there, Weepu was contracted by French side Oyonnax but was axed by them after six months into a two-year-deal, a situation which eventually led to him being awarded 114,000 euros ($NZ171,000) in damages, and after playing at a lower level in France, he returned to New Zealand a few weeks ago.

He was part of Sky Sport’s commentary team for the All Blacks-Lions test at Eden Park on Saturday.

If Weepu does play for Wairarapa-Bush this year, he will be following in the footsteps of another former All Black in Zac Guildford who was a regular member of last season’s Heartland team and is now part of Waikato’s Mitre 10 Cup side.

He would also add valuable experience to the 2017 side with Harwood revealing yesterday that the number of Heartland debutantes in a 30-man extended training squad to be named early next month would run into
double figures.

“We are going to have a lot of new faces in the mix this year,” Harwood said.

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