The XV that finishes the game could prove just as important as the XV that starts as Steelform Wanganui kick off their Mitre 10 Heartland Championship campaign against Wairarapa Bush in Masterton on Saturday.
Coach Jason Caskey has named a settled team which will include only three players making their first class rugby debuts, all of them reserve forwards.
The prognosis was disappointing for lock Josh Lane at Tuesday training with the likelihood his knee injury will keep him sidelined for 4-6 weeks, but Wanganui loses little with Peter Travis Hay-Horton rejoining the team after debuting last year and being one of the standouts in Taihape winning the Division 1 club title this season.
After scoring two tries for the Wanganui Toyota Development XV last weekend against Wellington Maori, winger Tom Symes comes back in for Karl Pascoe, being another 2018 incumbent and having that extra yard of pace in his arsenal.
After the muddy forwards battle at a raining Cooks Gardens in the win over Wellington Development XV, Wanganui will find themselves on the perfectly dry track with Memorial Park's artificial turf.
"The field down there is conducive to the guys with top end speed," said Caskey.
To that end, the forward reserves are all known for being attacking players with ball in hand, as Raymond Salu keeps his spot as impact reserve prop with Gabriel Hakaraia chosen ahead of Kamipeli Latu, after playing in both Wanganui teams last weekend.
"When you look at [Salu] and Joe Edwards coming off the bench, second half, they've got a fair bit to offer, include Samu [Kubunavanua] in that mix as well," said Caskey, referring to the former outside back turned loose forward.
"It's exciting to have guys like that coming off the bench.
"Gabe's probably the best tighthead we've got at the moment."
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Working his way back from kidney infection, Roman Tutauha resumes his place as starting hooker, although the captaincy will remain with blindside flanker Campbell Hart for this week.
Wanganui are in a tough spot for this opening fortnight of games because as well as Hart, they will lose their entire No 9 through to No 12 lineup next weekend in Lindsay Horrocks, Craig Clare and Penijamini Nabainivalu for the NZ Heartland XV vs Manu Samoa clash.
Therefore, the reserve backs become crucial as Dane Whale and a returning Troy Brown will slot in, while Nick Harding will likely come on at fullback so talented utility player Tyler Rogers-Holden moves to halfback to reunite the Taihape connection with Whale.
It would be very useful if Wanganui could get on top early so those players could then come on and get extra time together as a backline combination ahead of next weekend's crucial home match with defending Meads Cup champions Thames Valley.
But as Caskey knows, in Heartland rugby what would be practical does not necessarily come to pass.
"That's beyond [current focus]. We got to worry about week 1," he said.
"We want to try to get [competition] points out of this game.
"The guys on the bench are playing for next week [as starters], ideally the more game time they get the better.
"But we could well be in a fight up to the 80th minute.
"In an ideal world, that would be great [to swap them], but to me, Wairarapa Bush are a very good team."
Caskey's slight paranoia could be well justified – he remembers the last time Wanganui played at Memorial Park in a regular season fixture in 2015, when he subbed several veterans after they were leading 47-0 at halftime, only to win 57-35 when the home side scored five converted tries in a row after the resumption.
"We ended up have to kick a [late] penalty and score a try to get up."
The Wanganui squad will also have to be looked after as the artificial pitch has been known to cause medical issues, notably last year when Hart was a late withdrawal for a match in Greymouth due to a knee infection, believed to have started from a scratch in a preseason game in Masterton.
Caskey agreed player joints will be well strapped and support staff will have "plenty of iodine on hand".
Narrowly defeated in the Lochore Cup final last year, Wairarapa Bush have only one selection in the NZ Heartland squad, but he is player Wanganui have massive respect for in captain James Goodger.
Goodger, a 2015 and 2018 NZ Heartland rep, has 52 first class games for his province at lock or flanker and always gets up to play Wanganui, whether in Heartland or sevens rugby.
First-five Tipene Haira, starting ahead of veteran Tim Priest, can goal kick accurately under pressure, as seen in the Lochore Cup playoff.
Winger Tristan Flutey and reserve Bryan Arnold are former NZ Heartland Under 19's representatives, being 2017 team mates of Wanganui's Chris Breuer, making his Heartland Championship debut.
The home team is also notable for having no less than four brothers in the starting lineup – the Tufuga's in props Max and Sam, No 8 Kirk, and second-five Ueta.
Two of the brothers were in the Varsity team that narrowly lost the Manawatu club championship final to Feilding.
Wairarapa Bush lost two of their preseason games to Hawke's Bay Saracens and Wellington Development XV, but would take confidence from their 39-15 win over Wellington Samoa last weekend.
Five members of the Wanganui Heartland squad are expected to join the Wanganui Development XV, who will play the curtain raiser against Wairarapa Bush Development in their RDO Shield game.
That match kicks off at 1pm, followed by the main game at 2.30pm.
The teams are :
1. Gabriel Hakaraia; 2. Roman Tutauha; 3. Wiremu Cottrell; 4. Sam Madams; 5. Peter-Travis Hay-Horton; 6. Campbell Hart (c); 7. Angus Middleton; 8. Bryn Hudson; 9. Lindsay Horrocks; 10. Craig Clare; 11. Tom Symes; 12. Penijamini Nabainivalu; 13. Shai Wiperi; 14. Vereniki Tikoisolomone; 15. Tyler Rogers-Holden.
Reserves - Forwards: 16. Joseph Edwards; 17. Raymond Salu; 18. Chris Breuer; 19. Samu Kubunavanua. Backs: 20. Dane Whale; 21. Troy Brown; 22. Nick Harding.
1. Max Tufuga; 2. Bruce Kauika-Petersen; 3. Sam Tufuga; 4. James Goodger (c); 5. Lachie McFadzean; 6. Joseva Tako; 7. Johan van Vliet; 8. Kirk Tufuga; 9. Daryl Pickering; 10. Tipene Haira; 11. Tristan Flutey; 12. Ueta Tufuga; 13. Robbie Anderson; 14. Logan Hebenton-Prendeville; 15. Inia Katia.
Reserves – 16. Elijah-James Pakoti; 17. Sam Gammie; 18. Andrew Smith; 19. Sam Shaw; 20. Bryan Arnold; 21. Tim Priest; 22. Brock Price.