|Piri trusted despite questionable fashion sense|
In all seriousness though, Weepu has been a class player in the past for the All Blacks and almost single handedly carried them to the final in last year's World Cup after Dan Carter got struck down. 'Keep Calm, Piri's On' was the phrase being bandied about at the time. It appears us fickle fans have short memories. Hansen and co have made no secret of the fact that they believe the All Blacks environment can overturn any lack in fitness or form too, as we saw with Nonu and Jane in 2011. Weepu has lost the 10kgs supposedly required since the start of the season, so they are half way there.
Andy Ellis should contact his agent
I will query one thing though. How the hell is Andy Ellis not in the squad? If I were him, I would be devastated and possibly question my domestic future. He's been the form halfback in New Zealand this year, dominated Aaron Smith last week in the Super 15 and has proven experience at international level too. Supposedly Hansen has said that Weepu's kicking ability off the tee gave him the 'edge', especially if there were a bout of injuries.
|Ellis the unluckiest of them all|
You live and die by your decisions, so it's Hansen's prerogative to pick or omit whomever he wants. It does seem a little like he's just making up reasons rather than being honest though. If he doesn't favour Ellis, he should just say. It would save Ellis busting a gut trying to get an international call-up when he could be earning a pretty penny in Europe or Japan.
Will Weepu's Maori influence help him mentor Smith?
One thing which did come to my mind was whether the selectors took into consideration the possible edge Weepu could have in the 'mentor role' over say... Ellis. Clearly Aaron Smith has been earmarked as the All Blacks long-term half-back. He has a range of passing that New Zealand hasn't seen since the days of Graeme Bachop, but he is a rookie at this level nonetheless. He will need help.
|Smith and Weepu have similar backgrounds|
All in all though, I can't argue too much with the squad. People might have their preferences but it looks like a balanced blend of experience and youth overall and hopefully that added exhuberance will prevent the All Blacks from suffering the usual post-World Cup hangover. Bring on Ireland!
2012 New Zealand squad:
(New Caps in Blue)
Hookers: Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu.
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Ben Tameifuna, Tony Woodcock.
Locks: Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Ali Williams.
Loose forwards: Sam Cane, Richie McCaw (C), Kieran Read, Adam Thomson , Victor Vito.
Scrum-halves: Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu.
Fly-halves: Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett.
Centres: Tamati Ellison, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams.
Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Ben Smith, Julian Savea.
What do you make of the All Blacks squad to take on Ireland?
Were the selections of Weepu and Williams justified?