Has Piri Weepu Become New Zealand's First Choice Halfback?

Ben PearceContributor IJuly 19, 2010

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 17:  Piri Weepu of the All Blacks gets a pass away while Schalk Burger of the Springboks looks on during the Tri-Nations match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South African Springboks at the Westpac Stadium on July 17, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
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It was rumoured a few years back that Piri Weepu was unhappy in Rugby Union and was setting his sights on the NRL.

Now the Wellington Hurricanes and All Black halfback is at the pinnacle of his rugby career, showing the New Zealand selectors and media that he is in top halfback form in New Zealand rugby.

Weepu was simply outstanding in the All Blacks' 31-17 victory over the Springboks in Wellington Saturday, displaying his vast array of natural attributes with ball in hand and in general play. He delivered quick and effective balls to his runners, putting his team on the front foot throughout the contest.

It was a performance that the All Blacks desperately needed, with Jimmy Cowan struggling of late with his delivery to the backline.

He even proved he can kick goals too, taking over the kicking duties from the struggling Dan Carter in the second half. Weepu kicked a vital penalty goal in front of his Wellington faithful, giving the All Blacks enough breathing space in the match.

There was a sense of disapointment when Weepu was pulled from the field later in the game as All Black Coach Graham Henry gave the eager Jimmy Cowan a run off the bench.

Was this performance enough to prove he's the number one choice halfback for the All Blacks, or was this just a one off?

Weepu has proved time and time again that he's a valuable member in any lineup. His form for Wellington over the years has been extremely consistent, along with his performances for the Hurricanes in the Super 14. He showed what he can add to a side, and with a great deal of experience under his belt, he is truly becoming a better rugby player for it.

The rest of the Tri Nations will prove a real test for New Zealand's leading halfbacks, both Weepu and Jimmy Cowan battling it out for number one honours heading into the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

From Saturday nights' performance, Weepu has nudged himself ahead in the ranks and may be looked upon to start against the Wallabies in Melbourne on July 31.