A last minute call will be made on whether Horowhenua-Kāpiti cricket captain Andre Halbert will take the field against Manawatū tomorrow as he battles an ongoing shoulder injury.
The 24-year-old had taken it easy over Christmas with the view of taking the field in what was shaping up as a season-defining match tomorrow, and he underwent a searching fitness test at training last night.
Horowhenua-Kāpiti named an initial squad of 13 players and would be waiting until the last minute before deciding on the playing XI.
Halbert has been plagued by the troublesome shoulder since injuring it in a club rugby match for Waikanae two season ago, but he was more than happy to play through any pain.
"Fingers crossed it'll be okay. I'm a bad watcher. I don't like being on the sideline," he said.
The shoulder wasn't a problem when he was batting, but the injury had the potential to flare has he threw himself around the field, so these days he formed part of the slip cordon.
Such was his value to the team, a semi-fit Halbert was better than no Halbert at all, in what is shaping up as a vital clash against Manawatū.
He had wrapped himself in cotton-wool over the Christmas break, even missing some club matches, and worked hard on a rehabilitation programme with the view of being fit enough to play.
It was likely the shoulder would need surgery at some stage.
Meanwhile, the HK Bears find themselves in second spot on the Furlong Cup leaderboard with a match in hand, in what is shaping up as there best-performed season in living memory with a string of big scalps.
Should they dare to dream, the Furlong Cup is within reach. But according to player-coach Chad Law, it was vital the team concentrated on one match at a time to keep their positive momentum going.
They hadn't earned the luxury of looking further afield yet and would concentrate on shaking the "little brother" tag against neighbouring Manawatū at Fitzherbert Park.
"It's certainly a big game in terms of where we are on the table. There's a lot on it," he said.
Manawatū have had the wood on HK in recent years, but with a string of fine results this season, including outright wins against Wairarapa and Taranaki, the Horowhenua-Kāpiti side was forcing other teams to take notice.
"Being our neighbours we have a good relationship, but certainly we don't want to be looked on as the little brother," he said.
Should a tough call be made on Halbert, waiting in the wings to take the captain's cap was Matthew Good, who was at the helm of a fine win against Taranaki at Pukekura Park before the Christmas break.
The Taranaki win came after their third-equal finish in the one-day Chapple Cup competition, a stark improvement on their eighth placing last season.
HOROWHENUA-KĀPITI: Andre Halbert, Fraser Bartholomew, Kelsey Fahey, Keegan Maclachlan, Xitij Sakhalkar, Matthew Good, Dylan Reder, Carter Andrews, Chad Law, Daemon Kennett, Ajay Kashyap, Jamie Pinfold, Bailey Te Tomo.