Former Kuranui College first XV player Glen Walters will be in the hot seat when Wairarapa-Bush take on Poverty Bay in their Jeremy David Memorial Trophy rugby match at Memorial Park, Masterton, on Saturday.
Walters, who these days plays for Hutt Old Boys Marist in the Wellington competition, impressed enough for a Wairarapa-Bush XV in the No 10 jersey in a"friendly" against Murray Mexted's International Rugby Academy XV in Palmerston North last month to convince head coach Mark Rutene and assistant Paddy Gough he was worth a place in the starting line-up for a game given first-class status.
"We like what we have seen of Glen; he makes good decisions and reacts well to pressure," Rutene said.
The decision to start with Walters, who will also be the first choice goal kicker, was made easier, however, by the other first-five in the Wairarapa-Bush squad, East Coast's Byron Karaitiana, still working towards full fitness after injury problems. He could get some game time on Saturday with the versatile Walters going to the midfield or fullback.
The one debutant in the backline will be second-five Michael Te Whare with the Martinborough player benefiting from the unavailability of Tapaga Isaac, who was so influential in Greytown's Tui Cup grand final win over East Coast last weekend, and Titapu Pairama-Lewington, whose Old Boys University Club will be involved in finals day action in Wellington on the same day.
This is Te Whare's chance to get the jump on his two rivals and he will be doing himself a big favour if he and centre Jesse McGilvary can provide some open space for pacy wingers Nathan Hunt and Cameron Hayton and fullback Nick Olson.
At halfback, the battle continues between Matt O'Connor and Inia Katia with O'Connor being given the start and Katia sure to enter the fray in the second spell.
In the forwards, the unavailability of Old Boys University prop Jon Fuimaono means two old hands in skipper Kurt Simmonds and Wilba Davies will join another experienced campaigner in Richard Puddy in the front row with Jamie Hunt and Lance Graves as their back-ups.
And there will no lack of experience in the locking berths either where Brandon Young will start alongside Andrew McLean. One of those will make way for the in-form Lachie McFadzean later in the game.
The loose forward trio will consist of highly promising duo James Goodger and Johan van Vliet on the flanks and the powerful Gladstone No 8 Jim Temoci in that role. Just who will provide cover for them was still to be decided yesterday as Old Boys University No 8 Tom Fleming and Eketahuna flanker Rupeni Tamani were unavailable for selection.