Weepu ‘grateful to be able to carry on with life and play footy’

When Piri Weepu began to feel unwell while swimming lengths back in early March he put it down to delayed concussion.

Weepu ‘grateful to be able to carry on with life and play footy’

He flew to South Africa with the Blues and played two games. But still he couldn’t shake the migraines and asked for more tests.

When they came back the news was devastating. Weepu, New Zealand’s World Cup winning scrum-half, had suffered a minor stroke.

A hole in his heart had led to a blood clot on the left-hand side of his brain. That he survived is one thing; that he is back playing professional rugby again is remarkable.

His side, London Welsh, are cut adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership having lost every one of their nine games to date while conceding an average of 46 points per match.

But, quite frankly, who cares? “I am just grateful I’m still here, still breathing,” says Weepu. “I could easily have fallen over and been six feet deep. I am grateful for the opportunity to live, still carry on with life and play footy.”

On Tuesday he went for a check-up on his heart, later tweeting ‘Interesting feedback...nothing too drastic just something I thought was fixed,’ in a series of messages.

And it is the glass-half-full attitude Weepu has brought to his health problems that shine through, particularly when he relives the moments when his heart attack took place.

“I was in the pool doing lengths. That was when it happened,” he told the BBC.

“I started mumbling, I couldn’t say any words. I sounded like a baby. I got out of the pool, someone tried to talk to me and I couldn’t process it.

“I had blurred vision. I tried to drive home. I managed to get home, just taking my time.

“I tried to text the team doctor to say ‘help’ but couldn’t do that. I lay there until I felt I was better then I got in touch with him, went to his house, did a few tests.

“We put it down to migraines but when he mentioned it might have been a stroke I looked at him to say ‘are you kidding me’.

“It was three or four weeks until I found out. I was playing in that time, yes. I had five minutes of being sooky, then I rang Mum to let her know.”

Weepu took the surgery in his stride, too.

“It was a five-minute procedure as they plugged the hole. I always say it was just like putting some putty in there, smoothing it out with some sandpaper and the job’s done.”

And now he’s back. As a tribute to character and fortitude, there are few better.

“The first thing I said to the doc was how long until I’m running and playing footy with the boys?

“I said to (then coach) John Kirwan that this is what I was brought up to do, play footy. There’s no way I will let this stop me.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox