By Christopher Reive, NZ Herald

After a standout Super Rugby season in 2019 saw him secure a spot in the All Blacks squad, Brad Weber has started 2020 in unfamiliar territory.

As an All Black, Weber falls under player management protocols for the first three weeks of the season. As is the agreement between the Super Rugby clubs and New Zealand Rugby, All Blacks are restricted to 180 minutes of game time over the first three rounds in order to ease themselves back into their work.

Weber, who started all 15 matches he appeared in for the Chiefs a year ago, began the season in a bench role in the side’s round one win over the Blues in Auckland, playing just 22 minutes in relief of fellow halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

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“It’s a bit different for me. I would’ve loved to just get out there and rip into it, but I understand there are protocols in place so it has to be done,” Weber toldĀ Radio Sport‘s Nigel Yalden.

“With nines these days, we don’t often play 80 minutes anyway, so which every two are selected, it’ll be a two-pronged attack.”

Weber was one of five players with All Blacks experience on the Chiefs’ bench for their win over the Blues, and that experience showed in the second half as the Chiefs steamrolled their hosts to overcome a halftime deficit and take the points.

They’ll be looking to repeat the dose this weekend in their first home game of the year, with the defending champion Crusaders coming to town.

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Weber pointed out the Crusaders tended to bring out the best in the Chiefs, winning six of the 11 meetings between the teams since the start of the 2014 season including a 40-27 win in Suva last year.

“For the majority of my time here and the Chiefs we’ve probably had the wood over the Crusaders,” Weber said.

“I certainly enjoy playing them and I know everyone here does because we certainly try to rise to the occasion of playing against the defending champs at the moment.

“We’re certainly not lacking motivation and there’s no better time to get them and realise where we’re at in the competition this early on.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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