Versatile new signing Piri Weepu looks set to play both scrumhalf and flyhalf for the Blues next season as the Auckland franchise aim to juggle their halfback resources in the new campaign.
With established scrumhalf Alby Matthewson named in the Blues squad Weepu looks likely to start the season at pivot with young Gareth Anscombe and Michael Hobbs pushing for an opportunity in the No.10 jersey as well.
Weepu's versatility means that the Blues could end up playing a number of different halfback combinations next season, something which assistant coach Bryce Woodward believes will be a major advantage as the players will be under pressure to perform at a high standard.
Speaking at the Blues squad announcement Woodward said: "He's (Weepu) a 10/9, and he could be a 9/10.
"One of the things we've aimed for is competition across the board, and if you don't perform, your position is in danger. I think that breeds harder work and better performance ethic which we’re looking for."
With the promising Anscombe and Hobbs in the mix as well, Woodward admitted that the Blues management are unsure about which combination is their strongest and added that they will be using the pre-season fixtures to map the way forward at halfback.
"We're not saying anything," Woodward said. We've got three pre-season games, and we just don't know what's going to happen.
"We’ve got Alby [Matthewson], Gareth [Anscombe] and Michael [Hobbs] all desperate to get in the starting lineup. We're not going to make our minds up till we've gone through the pre-season. Because of the length of the season no one player is going to start and play every minute of every game.
"Piri will play 10 and he will play 9, Alby will play 9, and Michael and Gareth will get game-time at 10 as well. In the big games it's up to them to prove who wants to be there," he explained.
Although competition for places is healthy the Blues could shoot themselves in the foot if they fail to settle on a specific combination in the key decision making roles, which would be unfortunate given the all-round strength of their squad.
Weepu proved during the World Cup that he has the ability to control the game from the base of the scrum, and he looks set to take the goal-kicking duties at the Blues as well but there is a chance that his form will suffer if he is asked to change positions too often.
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