Piri Weepu of the Blues talks to media in Auckland on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images
Embattled All Blacks scrumhalf Piri Weepu has taken to Twitter to answer critics of his off-season weight gain, telling one outspoken tweeter to "get a life".
Weepu's fitness has become a national issue in New Zealand after his Blues captain, All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu, took the rare step this week of publicly expressing disappointment that Weepu had started the Super Rugby season out of shape.
Mealamu said the Blues needed a fully-fit Weepu to help them improve on a 1-5 record which leaves them in equal-last place on the table.
Weepu's parents Ihaia and Kura then defended their son in a story that received front-page treatment in Wellington's Dominion Post newspaper.
Mother Kura Weepu said her son was very close to Mealamu and it was "a great pity" the Blues captain had made public his concerns. She said Weepu had been unable to train after finishing last year's World Cup with an injury.
"He had three months off, and didn't start in great shape," she said.
Kura Weepu said it was unfair to lay the blame for the Blues' poor start to the season solely at the feet of her son.
Weepu's Blues and All Black teammate, centre Ma'a Nonu, also rallied to the scrumhalf's defence.
"He had a few injuries that I don't think people were aware of," Nonu said. "But Pow (Weepu) has had an ongoing issue with his weight and that goes toe to toe with his injuries. But he is slowly working into the season."
In his only comment to reporters on the fitness issue, Weepu said he was working hard to ensure his weight dropped.
"I just enjoyed my break," he said. "I guess all the disappointment's only from myself and I guess I'm working harder in the background.
"Obviously, I'm a bit disappointed in coming back the way I did, but I'm not looking backwards anymore. When I got here, I was a bit out of shape but I've made gains on that. I'm continually doing that and moving forward."
Weepu showed signs some comments were beginning to hurt when he responded angrily on Thursday to remarks about his weight posted on Twitter.
"Maybe you should hit the gym and get into shape to help out your struggling team," one tweeter said.
Weepu responded: "sorry, I didn't know one person makes a huge difference. I'm doing me, mate. Making sure I'm good for them. Worry about you, mate."
His remark that another tweeter should "get a life" was quickly taken down.