Hurricanes coming to town
Don't blink. Yes, the Manawatu Turbos will be taking on the Hurricanes in Palmerston North next month.
A new initiative will see the Hurricanes play at FMG Stadium on Wednesday, June 18, in a quadrangular set of shortened matches.
The other unions involved will be Wellington and Hawke's Bay.
The matches will double as trial games being held during the international window when Super Rugby takes a break and the Hurricanes need a blowout. The real deal resumes on June 28 when the Hurricanes play the Crusaders at Wellington.
The full Hurricanes squad won't front at Palmerston North because some players will be rested, especially those with injuries, and others will be with the All Blacks.
There will be four games played at Arena Manawatu from 6pm, each of 40 minutes duration with a 10-minutes break between them.
Manawatu play Wellington at 6pm and in order to keep the crowd at the stadium, Manawatu play the Hurricanes in the last game at 8.30pm.
Hawke's Bay take on Wellington at 6.50pm and play the Hurricanes at 7.40pm.
Those times have yet to be confirmed.
For Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran, the quadrangular is timely because he has been able to arrange only two pre-season games this year.
"It is all good for us because we wouldn't have a pre-season game at home," he said.
The pre-season games confirmed are on August 1 against Wellington at Wellington and on Thursday August 8 against Tasman at Nelson.
From Wellington, the Turbos will head over Cook Strait and go into their annual camp.
Manawatu players will get a break of close to two weeks after the Hankins Shield final before playing Wellington.
The opening ITM Cup fixture for Manawatu is against Northland at Whangarei on Sunday, August 17.
In the quadrangular, the Hurricanes are also likely to use their wider training group players so the two Manawatu men, Callum Gibbins and Nehe Milner-Skudder, might be wearing the yellow jersey.
That could mean more fringe Manawatu players will have to be mustered and will get exposure. The Turbos still have six contract spots to settle and this year they also have a reincarnated Manawatu development XV to select.
The Manawatu Rugby Union places importance on not having club rugby interrupted so was not interested when Hawke's Bay showed a preference for playing the quadrangular on Saturday.
Manawatu would have bailed out had that gone through due to looming club games.