Wellington - Blues captain Keven Mealamu has criticised his All Blacks Rugby World Cup team-mate Piri Weepu for starting the current Super Rugby season out of shape.
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Mealamu defended Blues' coach Pat Lam from the widespread criticism which has followed the team's 1-5 start to the season, the worst in its history.
The Blues, who have a roster heavy with All Blacks, are currently 14th on the Super Rugby table, kept out of last place only by points differential.
Mealamu said on Wednesday the Blues players retain full confidence in Lam and lashed out at new-signing Weepu, saying his poor state of fitness at the start of the season was disappointing.
Scrumhalf Weepu arrived from the Hurricanes this season along with his All Blacks team-mate Ma'a Nonu who was sacked by the Hurricanes' new coach Mark Hammett.
He has since struggled to establish himself in the Blues' starting lineup, or to gain much gametime from the bench because of a clear lack of fitness. Mealamu said the Blues needed a fully fit Weepu to help its struggle to turn around its troubled campaign.
"He's disappointed he turned up in that sort of shape," Mealamu told Radio Sport. "From the team's point of view, he's a player we could definitely do with out there.
"We're all professionals here, we shouldn't turn up in that sort of shape."
Mealamu said Lam, who has coached the Blues and the Auckland provincial team since 2007, should not be blamed for the poor start.
"We do back our coach," Mealamu said. "We want to do that by showing everyone on the field.
"I'm hurting at the moment. We are working hard to try to get our team back on track. Just really gutted we haven't got the season we wanted at the moment."
Mealamu also partially excused those Auckland players who went out drinking after last weekend's loss to the Melbourne Rebels, saying fans should not read that as a lack of concern among the squad.
"I'm disappointed people think like that," Mealamu said.
"I saw (the players) the next day and it's not like they went out and drank heavily. They had a couple of beers.
"But they probably shouldn't have been out tweeting they were out on the town. We are in a position where we are copping it from everywhere and it doesn't help."