Steve Hansen has put out his squad for the Irish test series and predictably the wrath of armchair critics everywhere has fallen on Piri Weepu. There is no doubt Piri has been below his best and obviously not at full fitness in the Super 15. Frankly he is playing in the wrong team, and one that is thoroughly out of sorts at that.
But lets rewind the tape to September and October last year. Piri was the toast of the nation, the man who launched a thousand memes. He is the incumbent halfback, a big match player, with a good bit of experience, and the ability to kick goals and cover another position. He deserves the chance to defend his position in this series. Having said that I am guessing if he goes like he has in the Super 15 you won’t be seeing him in the “four nations”.
Andy Ellis misses out at halfback, essentially to a younger, faster version of himself. Aaron Smith has been in great form for the Highlanders and appeals as a quicker passer than Ellis. There’s a lot of sympathy for Ellis, but if you are looking for a really unluckly halfback, its not Ellis, its TJ Perenara. He has been outstanding for the Hurricanes, full of invention and flashes of brilliance but also showing the ability to direct his team around the paddock. Frankly I don’t care if he is only 20, its the way he plays that matters to me, and he has got the goods.
Elsewhere there is not too much to surprise. I am really pleased to see Tamati Ellison picked, and I hope he gets some game time. He has come back from Japan with an extra bit of aggression and directness in his game, to go with the skills and maturity he has always had.
Hopefully the Irish will give the team a good run for their money. Best thing is a three test series, like the days of old. Should be some midweek provincial games too I reckon…