Of all the players to miss selection for the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad, halfback Brad Weber might earn more sympathy than most.
Despite co-captaining the Chiefs to the Super Rugby Pacific final - which they lost to the Crusaders - Weber, 32, was a huge omission from the All Blacks' initial squad of 2023.
With Aaron Smith heads and shoulders clear as the best halfback in the country, coach Ian Foster has opted for youth in his back-ups, with Finlay Christie, 27, and rookie Cam Roigard, 22, selected instead of Weber.
Whispers indicated Weber's initial omission was a ploy from Foster to keep him occupied with the All Blacks XV, rather than run drinks and only participate in trainings with the All Blacks top side.
Those suggestions proved false, with the All Blacks squad was largely left unchanged, as 37 were trimmed to 33 and only David Havili returning from injury, after missing out earlier.
Weber's absence presents the All Blacks with a risk if Smith goes down injured during the World Cup. With 18 test caps since his 2015 debut, Weber boasts only one less game for the All Blacks than Christie (18) and Roigard (one) combined.
Despite the quality, experience and leadership on offer, Foster concedes Weber is the unlucky man to miss out - even if he will travel to Europe as a reserve to face South Africa at Twickenham.
"[He was] very close," Foster explained. "It was a bit like the last squad.
"We've got some quality nines at the moment in this country, we believe. He's like a number of players - we know if we picked him, he'd do a good job for us.
"We look hard at the skillsets we want. We just really believe we've got the three [halfbacks] that we need."
Despite the inexperience of Christie and Roigard, Foster is confident both players will do the jobs asked of them in France.
Roigard has gone from strength-to-strength in a breakout season with the Hurricanes, seeing him leapfrog the likes of Weber and Folau Fakatava.
Christie is experienced enough in supporting to Smith and has proven a Foster favourite since his debut in 2021.
"There's a uniqueness about Cam. I know he's young, but he brings a left-sided game, he's a runner and he can influence the attack around the edges a lot,"said Foster.
"Fin managed really well for parts of that test in the weekend. We weren't giving him any good ball to play off.
"It was also a strong defensive effort and he was a massive part of that.
"We just look at the different strengths of our nines and it's always tough on someone."
The All Blacks will travel to England to face South Africa as their final World Cup warm-up, before opening the tournament against hosts France on September 9 (NZ time).