16 Sep 2008

Wellington get better outcome with returning All Blacks

9:02 am on 16 September 2008

The Wellington rugby coach Jamie Joseph is hoping to have at least halfback Piri Weepu back for Saturday night's Ranfurly Shield challenge against Auckland.

The leading All Blacks are allowed a fortnight's rest, with Wellington having Weepu, Rodney So'oialo, Conrad Smith and Neemia Tialata in that category.

Joseph feels Weepu and Tialata, who haven't played quite so much with the All Blacks, are the most likely to return to the side.

He says Weepu's the captain so if he's available he'll be starting while Tialata's entitled to two weeks off, so it'll be a case by case scenario.

Joseph feels Auckland are in a similar situation with their All Blacks, and although they haven't shown great NPC form, he's sure they'll rise to the occasion in defence of the Shield.

Auckland only get midfield back Isaia To'eava back - although it's been reported he'll start at first five eighth - with Kevan Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and John Afoa having two weeks off.

Wellington will be without Conrad Smith and Rodney So'oialo.