Expectations are running high ahead of tonight's Super Rugby pre-season clash between the Gallagher Chiefs and the Blues in Pukekohe.
The new-look Chiefs will look to add to the positive opening 40 minutes from last Friday's victory over the Waratahs in Rotorua.
Chiefs co-captain Aaron Cruden returns to rugby after being side-lined with a knee injury since April. His co-captain Sam Cane will have his first game since the Bay of Plenty openside flanker's appearance for the All Blacks against South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup semifinal.
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With the torrid injury toll suffered by all franchises during the pre-season, both teams will just want to get through without further injuries.
Sadly Bay of Plenty's late season recruit Mitchell Karpik is one of those to fall.
The NZ Under-20s openside flanker with the unique mop of blonde hair is out for at least six months after he ruptured the ACL in his left knee in Rotorua.
"I'm obviously really disappointed as I was really looking forward to playing for the Gallagher Chiefs this year. I'm choosing to see it as a bump in the road and will take the opportunity to mature my body and get ready for what will hopefully be a long career ahead of me," Karpik said.
"I'll also have a bit more time to put towards my university studies and I will of course continue to support the team from the side lines."
Karpik's injury has major ramifications for Bay of Plenty Rugby who signed the young star from Auckland after last year's ITM Cup.
Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers says while this is a setback for Karpik he has a long-term future with Bay of Plenty Rugby.
"It is firstly really important for him as he started off so well and he was making a really big impression over the hill with the Chiefs. We are gutted for him and while he is disappointed he is coping pretty well," Rogers said.
"For us best case scenario is that we will get some use out of him during the Mitre 10 Cup but if it doesn't happen this year then that's fine. We know he is an amazing talent that hopefully he is part of the Bay of Plenty set-up for a long, long time.
"Hopefully the supporters will see him running out this year. I think the prognosis is about six months so he might be there or there abouts during the middle of Mitre 10 Cup."
- Kick off in Pukekohe is at 5.05pm with the curtain raiser between University of Waikato Chiefs Under-20s and Blues Under-20s from 2pm.