Turbos a triple chance for shield
Manawatu could potentially have three Ranfurly Shield challenges this year.
Should Hawke's Bay hold the shield against Otago, the scheduled defences would be against Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Southland.
Turbos fans should cheer loudly for Otago when new holders Hawke's Bay stage their first defence at Napier on September 14.
Should Otago lift it, and they have a fair chance, their only other games at home and thus automatic defences, would be against Waikato and Manawatu.
It would be a long wait for the Turbos because their clash indoors at Dunedin is not until October 10, their final round-robin match.
And Otago would have had to successfully defend the shield against Waikato three weeks previously. If Otago lost that one, Manawatu would lie in wait with a challenge at Hamilton a week later.
In another permutation, should Bay of Plenty lift the shield, they would have to defend it against Otago whose next home match would be against Manawatu.
Manawatu do play Hawke's Bay this season, but that game is in Palmerston North.
Since the Turbos came into being in 2006, they have had only three shield challenges.
In 2008 they lost 25-3 to Auckland and in the other two they were comprehensively beaten, 50-26 to Canterbury in Christchurch and 59-18 by Taranaki in New Plymouth.
Other possible holders in the snail trail could be Northland, Bay of Plenty and Otago (again) and North Harbour (twice).
In Manawatu's 128-year history, they have never challenged Otago for the shield. Manawatu did successfully defend it against Otago in 1977, winning 17-3 in front of a crowd of 15,000.
Had Counties-Manukau not lost the shield to Hawke's Bay, there was a strong chance Canterbury might have grabbed it on September 19 and it might have disappeared from sight.