For a provincial rugby traditionalist, this afternoon's Ranfurly Shield challenge between Manawatu and the holders Hawke's Bay looms as one of the biggest games in the long history of these central North Island rivals.
Manawatu will bring maximal intensity, for sure, but can the Magpies match it? That's the big question facing the Hawke's Bay boys and their coaches.
This game is absolute make-or-break for the Turbos,. It could turn around their season, and be a vital financial windfall for the Manawatu Union. Aside from that, the chance to lift the shield is an chance of a lifetime and would lock these guys into Manawatu folklore forever.
Manawatu is a proud rugby province, having produced many great players, but it hasn't held the Ranfurly Shield since September 1978, 42 long, dry years. Most of the region's populous wouldn't have even been alive when they last had it, so this afternoon's match presents as good an opportunity as they will ever get.
With it just being a two-hour drive across country, and furthermore a beautiful long weekend, there will no doubt be a marauding mass of green invaders coming across the great divide.
In many ways this match is the Battle of Dannevirke, the swingers of the central North Island. Are they with Manawatu, or are they with Hawke's Bay? I'm not too sure. I think they go with the flow. They'll probably decide what province they are backing for the shield at the end of the game.
Yes it is going to be a huge long weekend here - Hawke's Bay anniversary, Labour Day, the A&P show, so the perfect timing to hold one of the absolute biggest clashes in the long and at-times tumultuous history between these two rivals.
Those who attended the premiership final between the two teams in Palmerston North in 2014 will remember it being one hell of an atmosphere, a uniquely regional New Zealand rugby experience at its best.
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None of the bells and whistles of the Super Rugby stuff, just good old-school provincial rivalry. It was an earthy, parochial scene and, on that occasion, Manawatu got up for the win against a strong Magpie side, and they'll be looking to do it again.
The green army of turbo supporters, led by their world-famous bucket-heads, will be tormenting and invading all corners of Hawke's Bay - well the twin-cities anyway…or at least the A&P show and a few wineries (that's if people from Manawatu drink wine, I'm not sure).
The Magpies no doubt have the ability to win but the real challenge will be about mindset. Hawke's Bay have to be focused 100 per cent as Manawatu will front up hammer and tongs - but the big question is, can the Magpies bring the same intensity?
The Magpie coaches will be looking for that level of desperation that's easy to talk about yet difficult to achieve – just ask the All Black coaches about the big World Cup matches we've lost over the years (even Steve Hansen admitted in the wash-up of last year's loss to England, that, ultimately, the English had that extra percentage of desperation and intensity).
If the shield wasn't enough, the Kel Tremain trophy is up for grabs and, also adding to the spice, is the return to Hawke's Bay of former Magpies coach Pete Russell. His inside knowledge of what makes a Magpie tick, and familiarity with the ground, will be worth a few points, and he will be highly motivated to make a big impression.
The Turbos will be fizzing no doubt, but can Hawke's Bay match it? The Magpies will be hoping for all the support they get at McLean Park, to try to counter the Manawatu fans, and help repel the challenge.
Marcus Agnew is involved in community development and international rugby, and is a lecturer, researcher, initiator of Hawke's Bay's Institute of Sport & Health