Brad Weber's hot form suggests it and so does history ... he should be in the All Blacks World Cup rugby squad when it is announced next week.

But the Hawke's Bay halfback wasn't counting his chickens on the eve of the Magpies Mitre 10 Cup Championship clash against Otago at Napier's McLean Park tonight.

"You never want to be too confident but I know I have done all I can to push my case. It's now up to the guys who make the decisions, the coaches," Weber said.

One of the stars of the last Super season with his Chiefs team, Weber did everything right during his 13 minutes of action for the All Blacks in the July 21 20-16 win against Argentina in Buenos Aries. Tonight's match will be his first outing since then.


"It's good to be back in the black and white jersey and getting some game time. The All Black coaches have told me I don't have to go out and dominate the game. I just have to do my job and that's my main focus," Weber said.

He has been the All Blacks third-string halfback all season. The All Blacks took three halfbacks, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow, to the 2015 World Cup and three, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu and Andy Ellis were in the 2011 squad on home turf.

Should Weber, 28, get the nod it will be an appropriate reward for his effort and perseverance. He didn't want his 2015 test against Samoa in Apia to be his only outing for the All Blacks and the manner in which he fought back from his broken leg injury collected at the 2017 Brisbane Tens was outstanding.

A 2011 world champion with the New Zealand under-20 team, Weber, played nine first class games for Otago in 2012. Three members of that Razorbacks squad, All Blacks hooker Liam Coltman, former All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson and prop Aki Seiuli, will play for the visitors tonight.

While Weber was looking forward to catching up with them after the match, it was more his reunion with the Magpies which was receiving the most attention yesterday.

"The boys have looked good during the first two rounds. There aren't a lot of changes from last year which means I have been able to slip back in relatively easy," Weber said.

"There's a pretty experienced forward pack and some exciting young backs. It's nice to be involved with the team again," he added.

Magpies head coach Mark Ozich said he would be surprised if Weber wasn't selected next week. He was impressed with the energy Weber brought to training yesterday.


Weber replaces Folau Fakatava in the Magpies starting XV. Another of the Magpies former Otago players, No 8 Gareth Evans, is unavailable with an eye injury.

Devan Flanders moves from blindside flanker to replace Evans. Geoff Cridge moves from lock to replace Flanders, Maori All Blacks and Hurricanes lock Isaia Walker-Leawere replaces Cridge and Jonah Lowe will replace Ollie Sapsford on the right wing after passing a fitness test at yesterday's captain's run.

Changes to the Magpies bench see Fakatava replace Zac Donaldson, Solomone Funaki replace Walker-Leawere and Ozich pointed out the Magpies have had two short turnarounds between games which adds to the challenge.

"It's a mental challenge as much as a physical one," Ozich said.

As expected, All Blacks squad members Coltman and first five-eighth Josh Ioane will start for Otago. Along with Coltman, Thomson and Seiuli give the Razorbacks pack plenty of experience.

It's no secret All Black Sevens star Vilimoni Koroi, who will start at fullback for the visitors, is Otago's most dangerous back. He rattled the Magpies defensive system on numerous occasions during last year's two fixtures between the teams - a 31-25 Magpies win in the round-robin and a 20-19 Razorbacks victory in the semifinal.

If the Magpies are going to complete a successful revenge mission for that semifinal they will have to reduce their missed tackle and turnovers conceded counts recorded in last week's 27-all draw against the Wellington Lions.

Forty missed tackles is unacceptable at this level and likewise 14 turnovers conceded from a team with as much talent as the Magpies boasts.

Teams for the 7.35pm match:
Hawke's Bay: Caleb Makene, Jonah Lowe, Stacey Ili, Danny Toala, Mason Emerson, Lincoln McClutchie, Brad Weber, Devan Flanders, Brendon O'Connor, Geoff Cridge, Tom Parsons, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Joel Hintz, Ash Dixon (captain), Pouri Rakete-Stones. Substitutes: Forwards, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Ben May, Namatahi Waa, Solomone Funaki, Josh Kaifa. Backs, Folau Fakatava, Ollie Sapsford, Neria Fomai.

Otago: Vilimoni Koroi, Henry Purdy, Aleki Morris-Lome, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Kayne Hammington, Sione Misiloi, James Lentjes (captain), Adam Thomson, Josh Dickson, Joe Latta, Georgio Bower, Liam Coltman, Aki Seiuli. Substitutes: Sekonaia Pole, Hisa Sasagi, Jonah Aoina, Hisa Sasagi, Louis Conradie, Dylan Nel. Backs, Rowan Gouws, Harumuchi Tatekawa, Michael Collins.