Anyone taking a bet on the Hawke's Bay Magpies' Ranfurly Shield defence against Ngati Porou East Coast at McLean Park in Napier on Saturday might want to ask the TAB to open a book on the size of the crowd.
With just three days to go, Hawke's Bay Rugby Union commercial manager Dan Somerville was conceding that even he still couldn't really pick it, saying: "Anywhere between 3000 and 5000."
The thing is that while the tiny East Coast union's best have usually been comfortably beaten by Hawke's Bay, one game stands out, even among interprovincial matches between any unions in New Zealand.
It was the 2001 national provincial championship division 2 final which packed the park, notably, judging by a wall of blue across the crowd, with Coast supporters clearly outnumbering those of the Magpies.
Living in Christchurch at the time, Somerville wasn't at the game, but says: "Everyone I ever talk with about it says it was one of the most memorable games they've ever been to."
Not so much the score – just staving off a massive comeback after being ahead by 20 points with less than 10 minutes to go, the Magpies won 30-27.
It was the atmosphere generated by the Coast, which in the space of two seasons or so had gone from near the bottom of the third division, to winning that grade in 2000 and then carrying a tidal wave of support through the next 12 months.
The crowd on that fine, sunny and warm afternoon is one of the biggest at the Park in the last two decades, beaten at interprovincial level by Hawke's Bay's first defence of the Ranfurly Shield in 2013, when a crowd of 14,000 was recorded. The All Blacks test against Argentina clearly topped the count with 22,390.
The park became the scene of possibly the biggest-ever gathering of Ngati Porou, and has a similar degree of attraction this time, partly also because it is the East Coast union's 100th year.
Buses will definitely be coming from the Coast, and from Wellington, and Somerville said: "From the time we announced the game (at the start of June) we were getting inquiries for tickets. It's probably the reason we opened ticket sales a little early."
The team itself will be arriving in good time, for a powhiri at Waipatu Marae, near Hastings, on Friday morning, and a party of at least 45 supporters from Wellington will be hosted at Kohupatiki Marae.
The weather forecast for Napier on Saturday is for partly cloudy weather with northwesterlies developing and a maximum temperature of 14C about the time of the 3pm kickoff.
The Tui, Hawke's Bay's women's team, play Northland in a curtain raiser, a Farah Palmer Cup national women's competition match.