Hawkes Bay coach Mark Shaw says he has taken no interest in the player tug-of-war between his province and East Coast ahead of tomorrow's NPC second-division final in Napier.

The former All Black hardman was typically blunt on the prospect of Hawkes Bay lock Jason Bellamy and midfielder Marty Lloyd playing for East Coast after both had looked destined for the sideline.

"I don't know anything about it," Shaw said. "They can pick Jonah Lomu if they like."

The player issue has been a hot topic this week, much to the annoyance of the Hawkes Bay Rugby Football Union, which expects a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 at McLean Park.

The union originally stood by its written agreement, which said the pair could not play in an NPC match between the two sides.

But it backed down on Wednesday, while denying any interference from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

Its decision has allowed East Coast coach Joe McClutchie, who was working at his school cleaning job yesterday, to name a full-strength side, free from injury after their 21-12 semifinal win over Nelson Bays in Ruatoria.

Seven penalty goals by former Hawkes Bay pivot Mano Flutey - one of several former Bay players in the side - were enough to earn a spot in the final.

Should East Coast win, the promotion-relegation match against the 10th-placed first-division side will become meaningless.

New Zealand's smallest union, which has provided the fairytale story of the NPC for the past three seasons, will not move up a grade, even if it earns its place on the field.

The union's finances and the facilities at its home ground in Ruatoria do not meet the NZRFU's criteria for a first-division side.

"One of the criteria ... is to have a covered stand that seats 6000 people," manager Val Morrison said. "Our grandstand doesn't seat 60."

It is not known which team will have more supporters at the ground tomorrow.

East Coast officials estimate around 3000 watched their team beat Manawatu in Palmerston North, and more are expected this time.

East Coast are confident about the outcome of the match.

"We're much better prepared and will not be in awe of them, which was one major factor when we played last time," Morrison said.

In round one, East Coast narrowly lost 36-30 in the first of Hawkes Bay's nine straight wins.

The Magpies scored 304 points in the round-robin, then beat Manawatu 23-15 in the other semifinal. They are at full strength, despite four players having to miss training with injury niggles.

Key men are South African first five-eighth Marius Kriel, 95-game midfielder Murdoch Paewai, captain and former All Black halfback Stu Forster, New Zealand Maori loose forward Reece Robinson, and Samoan hooker Mahoni Schwalger.

Hawkes Bay: Glen Horton, Ray Karauria, Sam Leung-Wai, Tim Manawatu, Murdoch Paewai, Marius Kriel, Stu Forster (capt), Mutu Ngarimu, Eric van der Merwe, Reece Robinson, Lua Lokotui, Daniel Quate, John Pale, Mahoni Schwalger, Clint Newland. Reserves: Craig Hawkins, Peter Bielski, Tafai Ioasa, Michael Johnson, Jason Bird, Antony Papenfus, Karl Mudzamba.

East Coast: Doone Harrison, Tyrone Delamere, Marty Lloyd, Koro Ngarimu, Willie Collins, Mano Flutey, John Bradbrook, Wirihana Raihana (capt), Morgan Wirepa, Horace Lewis, Jason Bellamy, Kele Leawere, Mike Noble, Derek Leefe, Orcades Crawford. Reserves: Richard Tuhaka, Sam Matenga, Paul Symes, Morgan Waitoa, Victor Taingahue, Johnny Nukunuku, Monty Manuel.

Referee: Steve Walsh (North Harbour).

- NZPA