Piri Weepu embodies Haka
like no other

The defining image of the 2011 Rugby World Cup for me has been the awe-inspiring sight of Piri Weepu leading the Haka.

There is no more breathtaking spectacle in sport than this ancient ritual. And the Kiwi scrum half embodies the Haka like no other.

Ever since it became a permanent fixture for the Blacks on their way to winning the first World Cup back in 1987, this traditional Maori war dance has become synonymous with New Zealand rugby.

Weepu’s intensity is truly inspirational – and make no mistake the charismatic No.9 will be playing a key role before Sunday’s final against France gets under way when he leads the Haka in his own inimitable style.

As red hot favourites the pressure on the host nation to deliver is immense. But the French will know exactly how determined the All Blacks are to win the Webb Ellis trophy for the first time in 24 years when they look into Weepu’s eyes. It will not be for the feint-hearted. Weepu in the full throes of the Haka is a fearsome sight.

It has been a remarkable year for Weepu, rebounding from a broken leg to become the pivotal player for the All Blacks. With first-choice fly-halves Dan Carter and Colin Slade both sustaining tournament-ending groin injuries and the inexperienced Aaron Cruden drafted in at No 10, Weepu became the goal-kicking, ‘senior’ half-back. And his form has made him the talk of the nation. Such has been his importance at this World Cup that fans throughout New Zealand have pasted posters of the 28-year-old of Maori and Niuean descent with his head superimposed on a Superman outfit.