Weepu considers code change

New Zealand scrum-half Piri Weepu has left the door open for a switch to rugby league after the 2007 World Cup. [more]

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New Zealand scrum-half Piri Weepu has left the door open for a switch to rugby league after the 2007 World Cup.

NRL contenders Newcastle Knights, who are looking to replace Andrew Johns next year, and Sydney Roosters have admitted interest in the goal-kicking Hurricanes and Wellington half-back.

Weepu, a former league schoolboy representative, has always maintained his interest in returning to the 13-man code.

He told The Sunday News: "I still watch a lot of league at the weekend and I still feel that passion and desire to be a part of it.

"I guess we’ll see how things go next year and, hopefully, I’ll be a part of the squad and do well.

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"I’m just waiting for the time and, when I’m ready to go, I’ll go."

Newcastle chief executive officer Ken Conway said: "We would look at his form. The fact he has a league background would certainly assist him.

"We would have an open mind about who we talk to. We have seen quite a few league players come out of union over the years. Some have been spectacularly successful."

Roosters boss Brian Canavan added: "I’ve heard of him. We would like to investigate him if he did become available.

"Having rugby league in his background certainly helps and we would have a full appraisal of the player, his skill level and gauge his depth."

Weepu, 22, recently signed an extended deal with Wellington and the New Zealand Rugby Union meaning any possible code switch in the next two years would involve a transfer fee.

Weepu’s latest revelation comes days after Wellington re-signed Neath-Swansea Ospreys half Jason Spice ahead of the Air New Zealand Cup campaign.

The 31-year-old former Hurricane has signed a short-term deal with the Lions after the Welsh club signed compatriot Justin Marshall.

Wellington coach John Plumtree said: "Bringing ‘Spicey’ back into the environment is a real positive with his voice and his leadership.

"He’s one of us. Even though he’s been away a couple of years he’s still in my mind and the players’ minds as one of us."

Spice played 55 games for Wellington between 1999 and 2003, appeared 70 times for the Hurricanes, his last match in 2004, and was an All Blacks squad member in 2001.

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