DEFENCE coach Rowland Phillips has praised Piri Weepu after it was confirmed the World Cup winner would leave London Welsh at the end of the season for French Top 14 side Oyonnax, writes JACK JOHNSON.

The 31-year-old New Zealander was the Exiles’ high-profile signing last summer, joining from Super 15 side the Blues.

However, the experienced scrum half, who played in the 2011 World Cup final, has been unable to prevent Welsh from having a miserable season in the Aviva Premiership with the club bottom and without a win in all competitions.

Weepu signed a two-year deal with Welsh last July, but had an exit clause if they were relegated back to the Greene King IPA Championship.

Phillips hailed Weepu’s “positive influence” on and off the pitch.

He said: “With his history and experience he could quite easily be negative or a little bit unmotivated because of the situation we are going through, but he has been an absolute positive professional.

“He brings a real good energy to the group, is always smiling and feels the same pain when we lose.

“I am sure his move and next adventure will be a massive positive for him.”