'It's been an honour and a privilege' - All Blacks hero Piri Weepu announces retirement from all rugby

Former All Black Piri Weepu has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby.

The 71-Test halfback took to social media to share a photo of his hung-up boots to signify the end of his career, captioning the image; "It's been a honour and a privilege to have played footy over the years! #AllDone #HangingTheBootsUp".

Weepu made his provincial debut for Wellington in 2003, but has since donned the No.9 jersey for many teams both in New Zealand and overseas.

Weepu predominantly played his career for the Hurricanes from 2004 to 2011, but also spent two seasons with the Blues before heading overseas in 2014.

In Europe, Weepu picked up games for London Welsh, The Wasps, Oyonnax and Narbonne before he finally returned to New Zealand for his final season this year with Waiarapa Bush which was unfortunately cut short by health issues.

The 34-year-old earned his first national cap in 2004 against Wales at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - the team won 26-25 on that day.

All Blacks' Piri Weepu looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks versus Tonga opening pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Friday 9 September 2011. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / photosport.co.nz
All Blacks' Piri Weepu looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks versus Tonga opening pool A match of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup. Source: Photosport

He slowly earned his spot on the team as the regular option behind the ruck before emerging as a prominent figure in the All Blacks in their successful 2011 campaign.

With the first-five shortage crisis affecting the team, Weepu eventually stepped up to take kicking responsibilities for the knockout matches - including a stellar night with the boot against Argentina in the quarter-finals where he claimed seven penalties off seven attempts from all around Eden Park.

He was crowned a world champion two weeks later before making his final appearance in the black jersey two years later against France in New Plymouth.

Weepu was also renowned for his passionate leadership of the haka - of the 71 tests he played in, the descendant of Te Whakatohea and Ngai Tahu led over 50 challenges, even though he admitted later he wished his captain, Richie McCaw, had instead.

"I used to tell Richie to try and lead the haka, and he'd always look at me like 'nah, nah, nah.' I always wanted him to lead it while I was there," he told TVNZ's Marae earlier this year.

The former All Blacks halfback opened up to Marae about his time in the black jersey. Source: Marae



'He’s too valuable': Hansen says All Backs won't risk 'flattening' a sick Sonny Bill

Sonny Bill Williams is out of this Saturday's Rugby Championship Test for the All Blacks against the Springboks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Williams was initially named on the bench in the All Blacks' 23 man squad, but hasn't recovered from tonsillitis he suffered earlier in the week.

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"He's had tonsillitis all week and at the end of the day it was whether we chuck him out on the reserve bench and flatten him if he has to come on and play 80 minutes or take the risk and he only has to play 20," coach Steve Hansen said.

"In the end he's too valuable to do that to and we've got good replacements." 

He is replaced by teammate Jack Goodhue on the bench.

Williams hasn’t played since he injured his shoulder in the French Test series in June.

The All Blacks coach discussed the risks associated with SBW making his comeback to rugby off the bench against South Africa. Source: 1 NEWS


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Wallabies ready for 'very passionate' Pumas coach Merio Ledesma's challenge

The Wallabies hope they are still profiting from lessons learnt under their former forwards coach Mario Ledesma, as they prepare to face an Argentinian team now under his stewardship.

Former Pumas hooker Ledesma had a strong association with Australian rugby and especially Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

He was forwards coach at French club Stade Francais under Cheika, who brought him to Australia to help out at the NSW Waratahs and then the Wallabies.

Recently appointed Argentina's national head coach, Ledesma will lead the country of his birth into battle against Australia in Saturday's Rugby Championship match on the Gold Coast.

"Very passionate but also quite technical," Wallabies' prop Scott Sio said of Ledesma.

"He knew when to take you aside and have a one-on-one chat and then he also had the ability to really get the team up and get them going for a session.

"He was a great believer in how you train is how you're going to play on the weekend and making the most of your training.

"That was one thing we really got from him and I think hopefully it's something that we've kept."

After leaving the Wallabies in late 2017, Ledesma enjoyed success with the Jaguares, leading Argentina's Super Rugby representative to the playoffs for the first time, in his only season at the franchise.

Appointed Pumas head coach at the start of last month, they have shown promising signs in their first three outings under his leadership.

They had a 13-point away loss and a home win by the same margin in their matches against South Africa.

In their most recent game last weekend, they lost away to New Zealand by 22, a smaller margin than Australia's two defeats by the world champion All Blacks in the first two rounds.

'The scoreline didn't reflect how that game actually went on the weekend for them." Sio said.

"I thought they had some great play in attack and really challenged the All Blacks for quite a lot of time in that game.

"So just looking forward to the battle, I think it will be a physical 80 minutes and then we look forward to seeing him (Ledesma) after."

Sio revealed one aspect of the Wallabies Ledesma found hard to appreciate.

"He was never happy about the different coloured boots that we wore," Sio said.

"He was always a big believer - like my dad - in black boots all the way."

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma during the Argentina rugby team training session ahead of the Rugby Championship test match in Nelson on Saturday against the New Zealand All Blacks, Alexandra Park, Auckland. Tuesday 4 September 2018. © Copyright Image: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Argentina rugby coach Mario Ledesma. Source: Photosport


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All Blacks great Sir Bryan Williams inducted into World Rugby Hall of Fame

All Blacks legend Sir Bryan Williams has been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame overnight (NZ time), in ceremony held in England.

Sir Bryan was joined by former Irish international and Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara, former French flyhalf Pierre Villepruex and former Welsh women's player Liza Burgess to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

The 67-year-old Williams joins the likes of former All Blacks of Jonah Lomu, Sir Colin Meads and New Zealand women's legend Farah Palmer who have received the prestigious honour.

He is the 22nd New Zealander to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Upon receiving the accolade Sir Bryan said he was proud to be named amongst greats of the game.

"It is a great honour to be inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame,"he said.

"I remember my first game in 1961 was a curtain-raiser before an All Blacks game, they were all my heroes and they inspired me.

"Nine years later, I was playing my first Test for them. I loved my time in rugby and I'm lucky to say that rugby has loved me back."

Sir Bryan made his debut for the All Blacks against South Africa in 1970 and played 113 matches for New Zealand and played 38 Tests.


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