It will become clear just who is who in the Tasman Tanning Premier zoo as the WRFU is clamping down on incorrect jersey numbers, starting this weekend.

The 2018 club rugby season has seen frustration for referees, media, and the Steelform Wanganui selectors, who have attended games and had mistaken identity of players after glaring differences from the match day programmes or the official team sheets.

The confusion has been due to players swapping jerseys, being in the starting XV with a jumper numbered in the 20's, two players wearing identical numbers and in the case of Black Bull Liquor Pirates, even sometimes taking the field with no number at all.

In terms of disciplinary issues, it raised the prospect of players escaping citings or not receiving mandatory suspensions for multiple yellow card offences if the name does not match the number.


WRFU club development officer Paul Kenny said the Council of Clubs' Monday meeting has decided that going forward, teams with jersey numbers which do not match the submitted squad list can expect to be docked two competition points.

This could prove season defining in a tight top four which currently has a spread of only four points on the table.

"If they don't abide by the rules [they're docked]. I've had quite a few emails," said Kenny.

Pirates coach Phillip Morris was heading home to check his email inbox when the Wanganui Chronicle informed him of the new rule yesterday.

With some of the biggest forwards in the competition, Pirates often have cases of the jersey's numbered 1-15 not fitting the intended player, while Morris said that shift work can often lead to last minute changes from the squad list which gets sent to the printers for Spriggens Park programmes.

"You've got to take the [work] money while it's there," he said.

"It's bloody hard because on a Thursday you don't know who you got anyhow.

"You look at our bonus points, we've only got three all season – it's important.

"We'll get it sorted at training."

Pirates can ill afford a points docking as they look to rebound from losing the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield last weekend to Waverley Harvesting Border in their first defeat of the season.

It does not get any easier as they face old rivals Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau up the road at the Country Club – the only other team to give them a blemish as a late penalty snatched a 19-19 draw at Spriggens Park in March.

Morris admits his team were "below par" against a well motivated Border, letting themselves down in the set piece.

"There was just a different tone last week, the body vibes were different as we ran out there.

"We usually react when we're angry after a [bad] performance and hopefully the boys can react.

"If you want to be top dog, you've got to perform week in, week out."

A bolter who has already generated press this season is youngster Desmond Tyrell, the son of Pirates legend Denning, who took advantage of the Manawatu Colts competition playing on Friday nights to turn out for St Johns Club Whanganui Metro and then his dad's team the following afternoon.

Already in the City squad for the trial game with Country in June, Morris said Tyrell has inherited his father's talent, but needs to work on his temperament – as he tries to do everything from kicking to running and the cleanouts, rather than picking his spots and working with his team mates.

"But he can kick the ball – other than Dane Whale, there's not many who can punt it like he can."

Whale and his Byfords Redimix Taihape squad have their own challenge as they host the in-form Border for the Shield challenge at Memorial Park, looking to reverse the 39-11 loss after the long drive to Waverley in March.

"I've been looking forward to it for the last 3-4 weeks," Whale said.

"We're sort of trucking around quite nicely, under the radar. The silent grinders all year.

"[The Shield's] just always a bonus, it always seems to be a hoodoo, that trophy."

With showers and southwesterlies forecast for tomorrow, Whale knows it is likely to be another wet weather round for all the teams.

"That's tough. We're probably the two sort of teams that can attack from anywhere.

"I'm just glad we're home.

"Everyone's available so it gives us the depth."

The forward pack has welcomed back Wiremu Cotterell, who has also gone straight into the Country squad, being joined there by midfielder Kameli Kuruyabaki who was instantly figured back into representative plans when he transferred from Palmerston North Old Boys Marist.

"He was awesome last weekend, he's matured massively since I played with him in the Wanganui set up," said Whale.

"A leader on the field, looked like he'd been there all season."

Acknowledging there is sore feelings from Kaierau that if Kuruyabaki wanted to return to Wanganui rugby he did not come back to them, Whale said it was a matter of convenience.

The young man is still doing his builder's apprenticeship in the Manawatu, and as Whale himself travels there for work, it was easier to bring his 2016 Wanganui team mate back up the road for training and home games.

"It's about [the transfer] working for him as well."

Another talent Whale brought along to the City and Country fitness sessions is 17-year-old openside flanker Lennox Shanks, who Whale says was in consideration for the NZ Schools team until he decided Feilding Ag was no longer for him and it was time to join the workforce.

"He'll turn some heads in the next couple of seasons."

In the other games tomorrow, Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist will be banking on the last sure fire maximum points when they face winless Harvey Round Motors Ratana at Spriggens Park, while Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri's goal is to just halve the scoreline from their 95-5 slaughter by McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu in March when they travel to Ohakune.