New Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby centre Marvin Karawana has been ruled out of Thursday night's ITM Cup opener against Auckland at Napier's McLean Park with a hamstring strain.
"It's not worth risking him at this stage in the season," Magpies coach Craig Philpott said.
Karawana, who would have made his first class debut, is one of three players unavailable for the Magpies. Fullback Israel Dagg remains on international duty with the All Blacks and another of the Magpies centres, Richard Buckman, won't be available until October because of his recent hand operation.
This means Philpott and Danny Lee have 29 players to select their squad of 23 from for Thursday night's match. Yours truly is still feeling cocky after successfully predicting all 32 players named in the Magpies ITM Cup squad earlier this month and I've now decided to have a crack at the team Philpott will announce on Wednesday morning.
If Philpott's side matches my prediction, just one member of the Magpies starting XV, former Crusaders prop Pete Borlase, will make his first class debut for the Bay. The Magpies team would also feature eight 2012 Super Rugby players - the Crusaders pair of winger Zac Guildford and lock Ross Kennedy, Hurricanes duo of halfback Chris Eaton and flanker Karl Lowe and the Chiefs quartet of winger Tino Nemani, second five-eighth Andrew Horrell, prop Ben Tameifuna and hooker Hika Elliot.
Horrell has the potential to start in one of four positions; fullback, centre, second five-eighth or first five-eighth. I'm picking he will be given the No12 jersey as this will give the Magpies two tactical kicking options in the likely scenario Dan Waenga retains the No10 jersey after his impressive pre-season outing last week.
Horrell is likely to be the Chiefs' starting No12 next season in the wake of Sonny Bill Williams departure, too.
Shane's line-up: Gillies Kaka, Tino Nemani, Tua Saseve, Andrew Horrell, Zac Guildford, Dan Waenga, Chris Eaton, Mike Coman (captain), Karl Lowe, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Maselino Paulino, Ross Kennedy, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Pete Borlase.
Substitutes - Forwards: Ash Dixon, Adrian Barone, Mitch Alcock, Kieran Coll, Tivaini Fomai. Backs: Isaac Paewai, Star Timu, Nick McLennan.