Wairarapa-Bush are playing for keeps in their non-championship rugby match with Heartland neighbours Horowhenua-Kapiti at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington tomorrow.
Head coach Mark Rutene says anything less than a win won't be good enough for a squad making their debut appearance at the capital's much-vaunted sports arena, in what will be the curtain-raiser to the Hurricanes v Rebels Super 15 fixture. "We are taking this game very seriously, a lot of people have worked very hard to make it happen and we owe them a good performance."
The prospect of firm ground conditions pleases Rutene who sees the overall mobility of the Wairarapa-Bush side as a prime asset.
Up front both starting locks Andrew McLean and Lachie McFadzean are powerful runners with ball in hand and they should complement the proven attacking capabilities of the loose forward trio, flankers Johan van Vliet and James Goodger and No8 Johnnie McFadzean, in broken play.
And while front rowers Kurt Simmonds, Jamie Hunt and Wilba Davies will be focusing more on doing the hard graft all three of them don't mind strutting their stuff in the open.
For hugely talented youngsters van Vliet and Goodger, in particular, this could be a watershed game in their careers as their potential is known to have captured the attention of the Hurricanes and this is a big chance for them to push for higher honours.
A new-look Wairarapa-Bush backline has pace to burn in their back three where speedsters Nathan Hunt and Cameron Hayton will start on the wings and Guy Wood at fullback. And waiting on the reserve bench to replace them will be the equally slick Damian Kamo-Paku and Nick Olson. Remarkably of them only Olson has played more than just the one game for their union.
Pairing for the first time in midfield will be Tapaga Isaac and Jesse McGilvary and they are no slugs in the speed department either while calling the shots at halfback and first-five - at least initially - will be East Coast duo Matt O'Connor and Byron Karaitiana, both of whom have been in excellent form on the club scene.
The selection of O'Connor ahead of excitement machine Inia Katia at halfback has been a talking point but Katia is sure to get his opportunity as the match progresses.
The Wairarapa-Bush v Horowhenua-Kapiti game will kick off at 3.10pm and gates will be open for supporters at Westpac Stadium at 2.45pm.The Hurricanes v Rebels match starts at 5.30pm.