The Highlanders’ last-gasp 33-31 victory over the Chiefs two weeks ago was arguably the most drama-filled match in Super Rugby Aotearoa this season.
Fighting back from a 24-point deficit, the Dunedin franchise clinched a remarkable comeback when midfielder Sio Tomkinson scorched over the tryline in injury time to secure the unlikeliest of victories at FMG Stadium Waikato.
Much of the Highlanders’ fightback can be attributed to the performance of star halfback Aaron Smith, who made one of the most influential displays as he scored one of his side’s tries and played a key role in a number of others throughout the clash.
That wasn’t the only reason the 92-test All Black caught the eye, though, as the seasoned veteran found himself caught in a first half bust-up with national teammate and Chiefs halfback Brad Weber.
While making a burst for the Chiefs’ tryline, Smith was caught with a flying fist from Weber in an attempt to bring him to the ground.
What ensued was a fiery exchange between the two halfbacks that threatened to boil over had it not been for the intervention of the two player’s teammates.
Speaking to RugbyPass via the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Weber has opened up on the scuffle, giving his interpretation of how the events unfolded.
“He was sort of falling down as he was ball-carrying, and I sort of got him with a bit of a swinging arm, but his head was nearly hitting the ground,” the five-test All Black claimed.
“There was nowhere else for me to tackle him.
“I knew I caught him pretty flush in the face and I could hear him mouthing off at Trasky [Kaleb Trask] on the ground.
“I sort of stood up and I was like ‘I know it was me’, so I just stood in and was just like ‘Right, let’s go, if you want to have a crack, I’m ready to go’.
“He just started doing the freestyle swimming but didn’t quite connect with anything.
“I was ready to have a go at him but we didn’t actually get to do anything.
“Then the boys came running in, someone lifted Nuggy [Smith] out. I think Mitchell Brown came over the top and gave him a bit of something around his collar, but nothing like old school.”
Weber revealed that he thought he had the mental edge over Smith at the time of the clash, but later realised the pair’s encounter may have provided motivation for the latter’s standout showing.
“At the time I was glad because I was like ‘Sweet, I’m in Nuggy’s head, he might overthink about this too much’, but [it] probably ended up firing him up even more, then he come home strong later in the game and obviously did what he did.
“So, probably wasn’t a great thing for me, but we had a good laugh about it after the game anyway, so we’re all good.”
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