Chiefs count cost as Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham ruled out of Super Rugby season

After an emotional victory at the Brisbane Global Tens, the Chiefs were returning to New Zealand on Monday night ruing two significant injuries.

Halfback Brad Weber and prop Mitchell Graham will miss the entire 2017 Super Rugby season with respective broken legs.

It's understood Weber has undergone surgery after fracturing his femur (thigh bone) in his side's 12-5 win over the Crusaders in the final on Sunday evening and his estimated recovery time is a minimum of six months. Graham was also been sidelined for a similar period after fracturing his tibia and fibula, which requires surgery.

Lock Fin Hoeata, a non-contracted player who was part of the victorious Tens squad, was stretchered off on Saturday and has ankle ligament damage that needs surgery, which is expected to sideline him for two to three months.

After losing their opening game of the inaugural Tens event on Saturday, the Chiefs bounced back to take the inaugural title, with the motivation of honouring the death of former Chiefs loose forward Sione Lauaki.

They beat the Queensland Reds 12-10 in their quarterfinal, before knocking over the Bulls 26-14 in the semi, then claiming the honours with the win over the Crusaders.

The scenes afterwards were far removed from a pre-season run around, as the Chiefs lifted a trophy amongst the ticker tape, banked $265,000, and had Liam Messam visibly moved by the way his team-mates could do it for his good mate Lauaki, who died aged 35 on Sunday.

Messam - a superb performer the entire weekend - was offered the chance to fly home early on Sunday, but opted to play on in his mate's honour.

The Chiefs' injured pair of Weber and Graham were expected to be key elements of their squad. There is decent backup, but depth is essential in these campaigns - as the Chiefs know well, having had plenty of pre-season injuries in recent years. It's a prime example of why the All Blacks weren't risked in Brisbane, though, of course, injuries can happen in normal pre-season games too, or even training.

Having got through their first pre-season match against the Bulls in Ballymore last Thursday unscathed, the injury blows - particularly how late they came in the tournament - would have been a tough pill to swallow.

Weber was set to likely again form a potent one-two punch with Tawera Kerr-Barlow, though now the squad's other halfback - Tasman's Finlay Christie - will be eyeing a debut. Similarly in the loosehead propping position, Graham would have been battling Kane Hames for a starting spot, and now Siegfried Fisi'ihoi may sense more game time.

One man who will also be a good chance of more minutes is outside back Shaun Stevenson, who was outstanding across the tournament, and named MVP for his efforts after showcasing his silky step and searing pace.

The 20-year-old debuted for the Chiefs last year, but a shoulder injury scuppered his chances, before Toni Pulu made the right-wing spot his own. That duo will probably again be battling for the No 14 jersey, with James Lowe and Damian McKenzie sure to make up the rest of the back three.

The Chiefs now turn their attention to their final pre-season hitout against the Blues in Auckland on Friday, where coach Dave Rennie is set to run all of his All Blacks, though not necessarily start them all.

Their competition opener is next Friday, against the Highlanders in Dunedin.


Photo: Getty Images (Brad Weber is carried from the field during the Chiefs' win over the Crusaders in the final of the Brisbane Global Tens on Sunday).