The big story of the World Cup so far for New Zealand had been the injury which took a pivotal player, Dan Carter, out of the tournament, and then the injury to his replacement which has seen the unlikely rise to prominence of a young Aaron Cruden, a 22-year-old from Palmerston North who, a only a couple years ago, had cancer.
The World Cup has also given rise to another unlikely hero, Piri Weepu. Having been out of contention due to injury many times, criticized over his fitness and (in my opinion) under-rated by the selectors, he was brought into the squad as a back up for the half-back position and has now taken over the number 9 jersey and the kicking duties.
Piri Weepu has finally been giving a stage on which to shine, he has been leading the haka and taking a leading role on the field too, and if the the All Blacks win this weekend, he will have cemented a place in New Zealand folk lore. He continued his brilliant form last weekend despite a family tragedy and illness.
Chuck Norris jokes have now become Piri Weepu jokes in this part of the world and there are many internet memes now bearing his image – you can make your own here. And there are numerous facebook fan pages dedicated to Piri.
The other big stories in New Zealand are the ship wreck of the Tauranga coast and associated oil spill and the upcoming election. Most New Zealanders believe that once the World Cup is out of the way, Piri Weepu will turn is attention to taking care of the oil spill and then successfully run for Prime Minister.
Here is Piri Weepu leading the All Black’s performance of the haka “Kapa O Pango” against Argentina in the quarter final. Piri’s opening words in this haka translate as “Let me become one with the land… This is our land that rumbles..” after this performance we had another 5.5 shake in Christchurch, that’s the ‘Weepu effect’.