London Welsh land Weepu
9:30am Friday 11th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
London Welsh have boosted their chances of survival in the Aviva Premiership next season with the signing of former New Zealand scrum-half Piri Weepu.
Weepu, who joins from Super 15 side the Blues, represents something of a coup for Welsh, who secured promotion from the Championship in May.
The 30-year-old won the World Cup with the Kiwis in 2011 and earned 71 caps for his country, scoring 103 points along the way.
Weepu said: "I'm hugely excited by the opportunity of joining London Welsh and at the challenge of playing in the Aviva Premiership - consistently one of the best leagues in world rugby.
"London Welsh is an iconic and globally recognised brand in the rugby world and I'm looking forward to linking up with head coach Justin Burnell and my new London Welsh team-mates - and helping the club re-establish itself in the top flight and in Oxford."
Weepu joined the Blues for the 2012 Super 15 campaign, after eight seasons with the Hurricanes.
At provincial level he played for Auckland and Wellington, as well as representing New Zealand Maori and the All Blacks at Under-21 level.
He made his senior New Zealand debut in 2004 against Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, with his last appearance coming against France in June 2013.
The experienced number nine played an important role in the Kiwis' 2011 triumph, particularly in their knockout victories over Australia and Argentina, when he was named man of the match.
Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: "It doesn't get much better than being a World Cup winner with 71 caps for the All Blacks - it's a signing that speaks for itself.
"It's massive statement of intent from the club in regard to its drive to be able to compete in the Aviva Premiership next season - and not just survive.
"It's also going to be a fantastic opportunity for the younger players within our squad to mix and learn from a player of Piri's experience and ability. As a player, his skill set is unbelievable; his kicking game and tactical appreciation are tremendous.
"After meeting with him in Singapore at the club 10s, his personality and aura is such that it will be second nature for him to fit in to the environment we've created at London Welsh."
Weepu will join up with his new club at the end of the current Super 15 campaign.
Welsh begin their Aviva Premiership season at home to Exeter on Sunday, September 7.