Horowhenua-Kapiti rugby coach Chris Wilton had some sage advice from a former representative when watching a trial match at Levin Domain under lights last week.

Sitting next to him in the coaches box and forming part of the brains trust was his father Micky Wilton, watching as players with Heartland aspirations did their best to impress and push for a spot.

At 85, Micky is one of the oldest living former Horowhenua players and no doubt his experience was called on as the coaching staff start to put circle round the names of players.

He was listed as the 507th player to wear the red, white and blue of Horowhenua.


Meanwhile, there was still a lot of liniment to be spread before the Heartland side was finalised, and Wilton said the final team would not be named until after the club rugby final on July 20.

The trial match gave players a chance to shine and push for selection and Wilton said he was rapt with the way players applied themselves in testing conditions.

"There was some feeling out there which was good to see, and there were a lot of players putting their hand up," he said. "It was very encouraging."

A trial match was a luxury not afforded Heartland teams in recent years but the fact two strong teams assembled only served to show the province was in good heart.

There was a down side though, with the injury of Waikanae prop Poleka Levave-Itielu, who was helped from the field midway through the first quarter.

Levave-Itielu landed awkwardly in a tackle and damaged his interior cruciate knee ligament, ruling him out of all rugby for at least six weeks. He hoped to still be in the frame for representative duty should he recover in time.

Wilton will be joined on the coaching staff by Mark Rutene, who will take up the position as co-coach.