The Maxwell rural Crowley family has been prominent in Wanganui representative rugby for 61 years and it is fitting that Cameron Crowley will equal a local Ranfurly Shield appearance record when he plays against Taranaki in Hawera today.

He is the third generation Crowley to play for "The Log", following in the footsteps of his father Shaun Junior (48 rep games between 1980-1984) and his grandfather the late Shaun Senior (42 matches between 1957-1961).

Cameron, a 28-year-old utility midfield or outside back, will equal the Wanganui record of five shield challenges.

He will join recently retired match centenarian forwards Peter Rowe and Cole Baldwin (Shield games in 2009-10-12-16-17) and the late trio of Budge Lockett (1956-57-58-59-65), Bill Eriksen and Jack Karatau (both 1954-56-57-58-59).

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Cameron Crowley, who will be playing his 46th game for the union since his debut in 2008, played in Shield challenges against Wellington on Cooks Gardens in 2009 (61-6 loss) and away against Southland in 2010 (62-8), Waikato at Cambridge in 2016 (32-12) and Canterbury last year (71-5).

He was NZ Heartland Player of the Year in 2008 as well as being chosen as a New Zealand Heartland XV rep in 2008-09-10-17 and as a NZ Marist representative.

In addition to Crowley, other Wanganui players with four Shield challenges each are Ace Malo (2010-12-16-17), Trevor Olney (1965-77-82-87), Colin Pierce, Colin MacPhee and Colin Rodgers (all 1963-64-65), Trevor Spencer (1958-59-63) and Tom Oldfield (1951-54-56-57).

Note that in 1963 Wanganui played both Auckland and Taranaki for the Shield.

Shaun Crowley Sr had three Shield games for Wanganui – against Wellington in 1957 (34-5) and Taranaki in both 1958 (22-9) and 1959 (17-11).

He also played in close home fixtures against the touring 1958 Wallabies, scoring a try in the 11-9 loss at Spriggens Park, and the 1959 Lions (9-6 loss), with both those games being held within days of Shield challenges.

Shaun Crowley Jr, a New Zealand Colt rep in 1982, was in the Wanganui side that was beaten 30-9 by Wellington in a 1982 shield challenge at Athletic Park, the same year that the Butcher Boys beat Taranaki 11-8 on Queen's Birthday Monday.

Now, Cameron Crowley takes on a 10th Shield quest for the Crowley family and it is possible he could be confronting a burly opposition winger in the form of 19-year-old Kiniviliame Naholo, younger brother of rampant All Black winger Waisake Naholo.

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Waisake, who started his first-class rugby in Wanganui while at City College and helped the Butcher Boys win the 2009 Heartland Meads Cup, scored a try when Taranaki beat Wanganui 51-7 in a 2012 Ranfurly Shield game in New Plymouth.

He is not playing for Taranaki at present, enjoying a break after a busy Super Rugby campaign, but his younger brother Kiniviliame stood out with two tries when Taranaki took Poverty Bay apart 78-0 last weekend.

It was an impressive performance on a heavy field at Tikorangi, home of the young Naholo's Clifton club, and could be the start of a promising career for the winger, who looms as a major threat for Wanganui's defence today.

He was taken off after a very lively first spell against Poverty Bay in his first-class debut, displaying the same speed and clever footwork which helped him score 40 tries in 20 games for the Hastings High School 1st XV last season.

He was snapped up in the Taranaki Academy and played for the Taranaki Sevens team in January.

Another Naholo brother, Meli, also plays for the Clifton club.

Kiniviliame Naholo, right, tangled with Jim Seruwalu during sevens rugby between Wanganui and Taranaki in January. Naholo will be a real threat in the Shield game.
Kiniviliame Naholo, right, tangled with Jim Seruwalu during sevens rugby between Wanganui and Taranaki in January. Naholo will be a real threat in the Shield game.

Both Taranaki and Wanganui have a number of newcomers this season with Wanganui tuning up with a very useful double work-out against Bay of Plenty and the Manawatu Evergreens in Taihape last Friday.

The three rep squads played non-first-class games of 40 minutes, with Wanganui losing 24-12 to the Bay and beating the Evergreens 14-12.

It was a first win in seven matches against the Evergreens, although Wanganui had beaten a Manawatu Development XV 40-38 away in 2010 and drawn 7-all with Manawatu B at Cooks Gardens in 2014.

Now comes the first major hurdle for 2018 in the form of Wanganui's 31st Ranfurly Shield challenge since 1907, and an eighth attempt at taking the trophy off the amber and blacks.

There were several close shaves in 1963 (pipped on fulltime 14-12) and 1964 (15-all) but Taranaki has a clean record against Wanganui and it will take a major effort to lift "The Log" this weekend.

It will be the second time the two unions have played for the trophy in Hawera with the hosts winning 17-3 at the Showgrounds in 1914 when Wanganui first challenged Taranaki.

The other six shield games were played in New Plymouth.

With a number of absences from last year's Meads Cup champion squad because of retirements, injuries and loss of form, the Wanganui selectors have included 11 newcomers in the enlarged training squad.

There are still some very experienced players in the squad including forwards Roman Tutauha (58 caps but injured at present), Sam Madams (40), Viki Tofa and Tremaine Gilbert (37 each), Kampeli Latu (25) and Jamie Hughes (20) and the backs Lindsay Horrocks (51), Simon Dibben (48), Cameron Crowley (45) and Dane Whale (27) plus the experienced Craig Clare (16 for Wanganui, 67 other unions, 5 Highlanders).

Wanganui has one loan player this season – Welsh forward Henri Williams – the 24-year-old 2.02m and 118kg lock who has been playing for Fraser Tech in Waikato.

He has also played for Bridge Club and Newport in Wales.

Williams impressed for Wanganui in Taihape last Friday, scoring a try in the warm-up half game victory over Manawatu Evergreens.

The last tall overseas lock to play for the Butcher Boys was the 23-year-old Irishman Gavin Thornbury, 2.04m and 110kg, who scored six tries in helping the unbeaten Wanganui win the 2016 Meads Cup.

The statistics

Steelform Wanganui has challenged 30 times for the Ranfurly Shield over a period of 111 years.

There have been challenges against 11 different unions at follows; Taranaki seven times, Wellington five, Auckland four, Canterbury and Waikato three each, Hawke's Bay and Southland twice each, and Manawatu, Manawhenua, Otago and Marlborough once each.

The closest results were 15-all against Taranaki in 1964, 6-5 vs Auckland in 1907 and 14-12 against Taranaki in 1963.

1. 1907, Alexandra Park: Auckland won 6-5
2. 1914, Hawera Showgrounds: Taranaki won 17-3
3. 1919, Athletic Park: Wellington won 30-3
4. 1920, Athletic Park: Wellington won 20-14
5. 1926, Nelson Park Hastings: Hawke's Bay won 36-3
6. 1927, Showgrounds PN: Manawhenua won 25-6
7. 1930, Rugby Park: Invercargill: Southland won 19-0
8. 1934, McLean Park Napier: Hawke's Bay won 39-16
9. 1948, Carisbrook: Otago won 20-3
10. 1951, Rugby Park Hamilton: Waikato won 14-0
11. 1954, Lancaster Park: Canterbury won 17-13
12. 1956, Lancaster Park: Canterbury won 19-6
13. 1957, Athletic Park: Wellington won 34-5
14. 1958, Rugby Park NP: Taranaki won 22-9
15. 1959, Rugby Park NP: Taranaki won 17-11
16. 1963,Eden Park: Auckland won 41-18
17. 1963, Rugby Park NP: Taranaki won 14-12
18. 1964,Rugby Park NP: Taranaki drew 15-15
19. 1965, Rugby Park NP: Taranaki won 23-9
20. 1973, Lansdowne Park Blenheim: Marlborough won 30-6
21. 1976, Eden Park: Auckland won 16-9
22. 1977, Showgrounds PN: Manawatu won 26-9
23. 1982, Athletic Park: Wellington won 30-9
24. 1987, Eden Park: Auckland won 59-6
25. 2000, Tokoroa: Waikato won 86-3
26. 2009, Cooks Gardens: Wellington won 61-6
27. 2010, Invercargill: Southland won 62-6
28. 2012, New Plymouth: Taranaki won 51-7
29. 2016, Cambridge: Waikato won 32-12
30. 2017, Rugby Park Christchurch: Canterbury won 71-5
31. 2018,Hicks Park (TSB Hub), Hawera today.