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Weepu to capitalise on Smith's slip up

Published: 12:37PM Thursday September 13, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Aaron Smith's loss could be Piri Weepu's gain this weekend as the veteran looks to make the most of his first Test start of the season.

Weepu was elevated to starting halfback for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Dunedin on Saturday after Smith was dropped to the bench for breaking a curfew after the win over Argentina last week.

The 62-Test veteran has made all six of his Test appearances this year off the bench with the fast-passing of Smith preferred to the physicality and experience of Weepu.

Weepu said he wouldn't be looking to do anything too flashy at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.

"I guess I'll just be going out there and making sure I know my core roles and doing my core roles to the best of my ability," Weepu told reporters today. "Making sure that my preparations are done really well and making sure I make the most of my opportunity."

The Blues halfback has had a tough year as he has struggled for form at times and battled with his fitness and said getting to start this Test justifies the work he has put in since the start of the season.

"Everyone wants to be partof the starting line up so you have to do the hard work to get your opportunity and this is my chance, so I'll be trying to make the most of this on Saturday.

"It's a good opportunity to make sure that I do everything I can to stay in it."

Weepu will bring good form into the starting halfback role having put in an excellent cameo off the bench against the Pumas last week after coming on to the field with the game still in the balance.

While the slender Smith was put under pressure around the ruck and bullied by the Argentine forwards, the robust Weepu was able to take control and stamp his mark on the game.

No doubt the big South African pack will look to play a similar style to the Pumas and Weepu's physical presence may be the best trick to counter it.

"In a way I guess it (my physical style) does sort of suit playing the Springboks, but you can never be too sure about how they're going to play.

"Sometimes they can change things on us so you've got to expect the unexpected and we'll be preparing ourselves the way we think we're going to play, but we'll also have our mind on they might have something totally different that we can adapt to as well."

Weepu will also be charged with sparking the All Blacks backline into action as they look to fully fire for the first time in the Rugby Championship. He was hopeful the conditions under the roof in Dunedin would help them to finally click into gear.

"It's a good opportunity for us as a team for us to have some good dry footy.

"Obviously we didn't have that last week, but it's going to be tough and obviously going to make the game a lot faster in the conditions, but there's going to be a dry pitch and the ball is probably going to be thrown around a bit."