International wheelchair rugby returns to New Zealand after five years tomorrow night in Auckland, with a Northlander taking his place in the Wheel Blacks' team that will take on Australia in a "friendly".
While it is debatable whether any transtasman clash can be friendly, Glenbervie resident and Northern Advocate sports editor Cameron Leslie will give his best for New Zealand at Lagoon Leisure Centre in Panmure at 7pm.
The Kiwis have plenty to prove to their supporters, after having slipped from Paralympic gold medallists in 2004 to 10th currently.
Coach Peter Martin felt the match wouldn't be without passion and sting, after all it is an international clash.
"We've seen them, we know what they can do, and we have got to reassert ourselves with what we're trying to do in certain line-ups - and if we do that, we have good opportunity to steal a win," Martin said
The international is part of New Zealand's pinnacle domestic event, the nationals, in wheelchair rugby which runs from today through to Sunday at the Allan Brewster Leisure Centre in Papatoetoe.
Having stemmed from a proposed annual test series, similar to the Bledisloe Cup, both sides took advantage of the Australians' presence in New Zealand after entering two teams into the nationals.
The nationals, and the international, will be extremely competitive as Wheel Blacks team members look to hit form before departing for the IWRF World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Denmark next month. "We've got a lot of rugby between now and then," Martin said.