New Chiefs co-captain and Hawke's Bay Magpies halfback Brad Weber would have loved to have played in the first round of Super Rugby Aotearoa at the weekend.
The 30-year-old and his Chiefs teammates had to sit out the first round, with their campaign beginning against the Highlanders on Friday in Hamilton.
Weber said while it was strange to be sidelined amid all the hype around the start of the season, the positive is getting a good look at all the other teams.
"The way they run their attack, the way their defense systems run... try and pick holes where we can and find opportunities," he said.
Magpies skipper Ash Dixon, who started at hooker and led the new Hautoa Kia Toa haka for the Highlanders in their 26-13 loss to the Crusaders in round one, has co-captained the Dunedin side since 2017.
Weber was announced as co-captain of the Chiefs last week alongside All Blacks skipper Sam Cane. While he is not taking the responsibility that comes with the role for granted, not much of what he brings to the team will be changing.
"Sam's still our main guy, I'm just helping him out really," Weber said.
Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan told the halfback he wanted him as co-captain when they caught up around Christmas.
Weber said he went away to think about it, and had a chat with Cane to get his perspective before saying yes:
"It was pretty much a no-brainer from there, I was pretty keen to do it."
Weber is slightly short on recent high-level rugby, having been a largely unused member of the All Blacks squad that were together from September through November last year.
That meant he missed out on all but the first two of Hawke's Bay's games in their Championship-winning 2020 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
He said it was great to be a fan last year, though, and watch the team play so well from afar.
"We keep a pretty keen eye on the Mitre 10 Cup throughout the All Blacks camp. I won a lot of money off a lot of the lads by putting on a few wagers, so I was pretty happy about that," he laughed.
"Being able to watch some of my best mates from school play, and some of those young guys that I've had the pleasure of playing with for the last couple of years, seeing them grow to where they are now, it's really exciting for Hawke's Bay rugby."
Few have grown more than Weber's fellow halfback Folau Fakatava, with the 21-year-old earning the Duane Monkley Medal for 2020 as the most outstanding player in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Weber said Fakatava, who will play against him for the Highlanders on Friday, had a fantastic season in his absence.
"I think we'll be seeing him in higher honours pretty quickly," the All Black said.
"The raw ability has always been there with Folau, you could tell at training he's an athlete, he's got the skills and can put hits on in defence that I could only dream of."
Weber said Fakatava has become better at managing a game plan and leading his team, things he has been able to give the young gun some help and guidance with since he joined the Magpies.