Livewire Weber pulling his weight - at pace

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

With the Chiefs two first-pick halfbacks under injury clouds, wider training group player Brad Weber is taking his chance to make an impact on the field.

Brad Weber
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
RETAINING SPEED: Brad Weber has put on some weight but kept his trademark speed out of halfback for the Chiefs.

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Brad Weber has bulked up - he's up to 74-75kg dripping wet.

But that didn't stop the Waikato (via Hawke's Bay and Otago) halfback from making his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs last Friday and now the mini speedball is an outside chance against the Highlanders on Saturday.

The livewire No 9 joined the squad late last year as a member of the wider training group and suddenly found himself on the bench for the opening match against the Crusaders in Christchurch with both Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Augustine Pulu sidelined by injury.

"It's all worked out for me," said Weber in reference to his mid-season move from Otago to Waikato to answer an SOS call from the Mooloos last year.

"When it first happened I was a bit sceptical but it was certainly the best thing for my career and I couldn't have asked for it to go any better to be honest. Making my debut against the Crusaders was like a dream come true."

Some might have thought Weber was too small for Super Rugby but his cameo appearances off the bench in the trial against the Blues and then against the Crusaders showed he was not out of place.

"I've been working pretty hard with the trainers in terms of putting on a bit of weight but they didn't want me to lose my speed at the same time.

"So it's been managed really well and I'm feeling the best I've ever felt, the fittest I've ever felt and the professional environment here has just done me wonders really."

Weber came into camp weighing 69kg and is now the heaviest he's ever been but probably still the lightest player in Super Rugby.

"It's the story of my rugby career. I'm always the lightest but I seem to find a way to get around it and make an impact."

He never expected to get his break so soon, but with Kerr-Barlow injuring his foot in training last Thursday Weber came onto the bench and then with Pulu injuring his knee against the Crusaders he got his opportunity.

"I definitely didn't think it would come this soon, especially with the way Augie's been playing and Tawera as well.

"They're both playing extremely well and are two world-class halfbacks in my mind.

"I'm gutted for them but at the same time I've got to be happy that I'm able to have this opportunity."

Kerr-Barlow is an outside chance to return this week but either way Weber will be in the match 22 and could yet start.

From his time in Otago Weber knows a number of the Highlanders players and his best mate Gareth Evans - they went to Napier Boys' High together - is a key forward now for Saturday's opposition.

"He knows all my little tricks and no doubt he'll be watching me with a keen eye and the same goes for me with him.

"We'll be giving it too each other all week. He played really well against the Blues so he'll be feeling a bit confident, but I know how he works so I'll find a way to give it to him," Weber said.

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- Waikato Times

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