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The two 'All Black calibre players' to watch at the Chiefs this season

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Chiefs halfback Brad Weber has highlighted two players as All Blacks of the future ahead of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

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The festive season is a special time of year, as everyone celebrates alongside family and friends before ushering in another chapter.

But for rugby fans, the New Year is also a turning point.

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When the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Day, the countdown to Super Rugby Pacific well and truly begins.

The highs and lows from last season are left untouched in the history books; now, as players battle through yet another gruelling preseason, is their opportunity to make their mark once again.

But this year means more – it has to be considering it’s a World Cup year.

For some all-time greats, this might be their last opportunity to win silverware with their beloved Super Rugby franchises, while stars of tomorrow stand on the cusp of greatness and opportunity.

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As some players prepare to take the next steps in their careers, it’s quite clear that the next generation of Super Rugby talent and All Blacks is bright.

Two rising stars at the Chiefs have been endorsed as All Blacks of the future ahead of this year’s Super Rugby campaign, by one of New Zealand’s premier halfbacks too.

All Black Brad Weber believes halfbacks Cortez Ratima and Xavier Roe have the potential to don the coveted black jersey sometime in the future.

“The good thing for us is that we don’t have a lot of turnover this year, there’s a lot of guys (staying on),” Weber told SENZ Breakfast earlier this week.

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“I think we’ve only lost maybe one or two so a lot of continuity which is good, but I certainly am excited by our two backup halfbacks.

“Cortez and Xavier, I think, for the future are going to be two All Black calibre players that (are) already outstanding at the moment.

“They certainly keep me on my toes, I’ve got to keep performing – I don’t have my spot locked in – but certainly for the future those two are going to be seriously good I think.”

Weber has played at the highest level, having played for the All Blacks at a Rugby World Cup and captained the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

But even though his career has been massively successful up until this point, that’s not to say it’s all been smooth sailing.

An injury in 2017 saw Weber miss out on a clash against the touring British and Irish Lions.

Weber admitted that he “didn’t deal” with the lows of the sport “very well” earlier in his career, as he spoke about the importance of mental skills coach Aaron Walsh at the Chiefs.

“Outside of your normal coaches he should be the first one signed up,” he added.

“Mental skills coaches for me over my Super Rugby career and All Blacks career has been massive for me.

“Walshy’s a great man, he’s got a lot of gold nugget in there. Just sitting down and chatting through your experiences how you’ve handled high pressure environments and high pressure situations, and how maybe you do things differently.

“Especially in rugby, you come into some pretty high pressure environments or situations where you need to make some big, big decisions really, really quickly, and how do you deal with that? How do you deal with mistakes?

“To be honest at the start of my career I didn’t deal with them very well at all.”

In review, the Chiefs should be more than pleased with how their Super Rugby season went last year.

After placing fifth in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in 2021, the Chiefs placed third in the new-look 12-team competition last year.

They fought valiantly against eventual winners the Crusaders in Christchurch, but their season came to an end with a 20-7 loss in their semi-final.

But revenge can be a beautiful thing in sport.

The Chiefs will have an opportunity to right the wrongs from that tough semi-final loss, as they take on the Crusaders in their season-opener next month.

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