Piri Weepu may not have completely recovered his fitness following the post-World Cup celebrations, but it is not a big worry for Blue coach Pat Lam who has plenty of depth at his disposal.
Weepu was one of the Blues' big off-season signings along with fellow All Black and former Hurricane Ma'a Nonu, so one might expect Lam to be a bit more anxious about his condition and readiness for the big season opener against the Crusaders next week.
However, the Blues mentor is relatively relaxed about the situation as he believes that he has adequate back-up in his squad.
The battle against the off-season bulge is not something new for Weepu, his experience coming back from serious injury last year is a prime example.
The talented halfback had to spend some quality time with New Zealand Sevens coach and feared fitness taskmaster Gordon Tietjens just to get back in shape to play for the All Blacks.
Lam seems incredibly understanding of Weepu's situation, explaining that it was almost inevitable that he would put on some weight following the World Cup victory last year.
He told Fairfax media: "Obviously, these guys have had a longer break, and a lot of them have enjoyed themselves after the World Cup, and that's fine. We knew that was a possibility."
Lam said the competition in the squad, with other players who have been working hard on their conditioning, would push the All Blacks to get their match-fitness back as soon as possible.
He said: "For me, it's all about who performs in competition regardless of their names or what they've done.
"Piri is determined to get himself in better shape, and it's the same with some of the other guys who aren't quite there. But the acid comes on from the guys who are in good shape and you want guys pushing each other," added the Blues boss.
Weepu can play either halfback position, and with scrumhalf Alby Matthewson showing good pre-season form and flyhalves Michael Hobbs and Gareth Anscombe looking accomplished against the Highlanders on Friday Lam is more than comfortable with his options, even though Weepu might not quite be in top condition yet.
He commented: "You can see he's [Weepu] short a gallop, but he showed touches of class [against the Highlanders].
"Once he gets fully fit we're going to get the benefit of that, and through the season it's going be crucial when you've got quality in the squad," explained Lam.
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