Rugby Union

London Welsh look to Piri Weepu for leadership

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London Welsh are hoping star signing Piri Weepu can help guide them to Aviva Premiership safety this season, reports BBC Sport.

The World Cup winning All-Black star - who has 71 caps for New Zealand - was perhaps the Exiles most stellar addition to the squad as they prepare for life in the top tier of English rugby.

30-year old Weepu met his team-mates for the first time when London Welsh enjoyed a comfortable 40-12 pre-season win over Welsh Premiership champions Pontypridd, where the scrum-half acted as a waterboy for the side.

Leadership

Exiles head-coach Justin Burnell believes Weepu is a superb capture from the club and that the New-Zealander could have a big part to play this season.

"He's a game-breaker," Burnell told BBC Sport.

"His attributes are just phenomenal but the biggest thing we require is leadership - and he certainly has leadership in abundance."

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Strong qualities

Weepu - who suffered a minor stroke back in March but has since made a full recovery - also has the backing of Exiles president John Dawes, who is a former British and Irish Lions captain.

He told BBC Sport: "Playing with London Welsh he'll have the opportunity to display his strong points, which will benefit London Welsh.

"I think he'll find himself very popular with London Welsh."

He found himself carrying drinks for his new team-mates during the victory over Pontypridd and Burnell insists he won't be receiving special treatment despite his illustrious reputation in the game.

"Although he is an All Black World Cup winner he is still classed as no different to our younger players," he said.

"He was the head water-boy so he was running around doing all the duties, which is good - he has to buy into what we're doing."

Confidence

London Welsh were relegated after just one season in the Premiership three years ago but bounced back at the first attempt.

They beat Bristol in the Championship final in June and despite the step-up in quality the Aviva Premiership will provide, Burnell is confident the club can hold their own against the best club sides in English rugby.

He said: "We've got some very, very good players but the biggest strength we've got is how quickly we just all gelled together on and off the field.

"We're pretty straight forward and pretty honest with each other.

"It's an honour to be part of the best club league in the world, but you've got to win games - that's the biggest thing for us."

London Welsh begin their campaign at home to Exeter on September 7, in which Weepu is expected to make his long-awaited Exiles debut.

 

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Topics:
Aviva Premiership
Rugby Union

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