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Why Brad Weber missed out on the All Blacks’ World Cup squad

By Finn Morton
Brad Weber and Finlay Christie run through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Bruce Pulman Park on June 25, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

When two-time Rugby World Cup winning-captain Richie McCaw revealed the All Blacks 33-man squad to head to France on Monday, three halfbacks walked out onto the stage in Napier.

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Brad Weber wasn’t one of them.

New Zealand rugby is blessed with some truly exciting options at halfback, including the likes of Weber, Folau Fakatava and the injured TJ Perenara. But all three missed on All Blacks selection.

Selectors have stuck with the same three halfbacks who played a role in the All Blacks’ perfect run in both The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.

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Veteran Aaron Smith has been picked for his third Rugby World Cup, and will travel alongside rising star Cam Roigard and Blues halfback Finlay Christie.

But some rugby fans in Aotearoa wanted to see the All Blacks go in a different direction – in the direction of capable No. 9 Brad Weber. The halfback has impressed in the black jersey before, and came “very close” to selection.

“We’ve got some quality nines at the moment in this country, we believe. He’s like a number of players, we know that if we picked him that he’d do a good job for us,” Foster told reporters.

“We look hard at the skillsets we want and we just really believe we’ve got the three that we need.

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“There’s a uniqueness around Cam. I know he’s young but he brings a left-sided game, he’s a runner.

“Fin managed really well, for parts of that team in the weekend where we weren’t giving him any good ball to play off. But it was also a really strong defensive effort, he was a massive part of that.

“We just look at the different strengths of our nines and it’s always tough on someone.”

Since the squad was named, All Blacks coach Ian Foster has confirmed that Weber has been called up as injury cover alongside flanker Samipeni Finau and uncapped hooker George Bell.

“That was always the plan,” Foster added.

“We’re allowed to have extra players train with us up until we go to France, so we’ll bring Brad, Samipeni and George with us.

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“To be fair, it would have been Asofa Aumua (at hooker) but he pulled a call at the weekend and is out for six to eight weeks.

“In Samipeni’s case, he could potentially be involved in the South Africa game if we feel we can utilise him to manage our lock stock through to the start.”

The All Blacks take on rivals South Africa at Twickenham later this month, and will open their World Cup campaign against tournament hosts and favourites France on September 9 (NZST) in Paris.

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6 Comments
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Ruby 343 days ago

I would've picked Aaron, Roigard and Weber for the Rugby Championship squad but that's not how it went, Christie was there and his chances for World Cup selection were boosted by being in the mix and learning their offensive and defensive systems and he didn't do enough wrong to warrant dropping him, the initial bad selection made this the correct selection.

Sometimes recent experience matters more than overall experience, especially in such a crucial playmaking role, that's why they're bringing Brad Weber and George Bell to England, they're both potential call ups in an injury crisis and they need to know those systems whether it's the offensive system for Weber or lineout calls for George.

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Andrew 343 days ago

This is what makes it a real farce. If Smith goes down immediately prior to a playoff, there isnt the proverbial snowballs chance that they will go with Christie and Roigard. Weber will be in that 9 shirt in a flash with Roigard on the pine.

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Utiku Old Boy 344 days ago

Fuzzy Fozzie logic is hard to follow. Christies heart and scramble is admirable, especially in defense but his slow delivery and option taking is below true international class.

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Turlough 5 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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