Southland coach Brad Mooar is treating Wednesday's Town vs Country game as a Stags trial.
"It's certainly part of the trial process, there's no secret in that," Mooar said.
"The wider training squad members have been made directly aware of that and both the Town and Country coaches have been made aware of that. It's hugely important, hopefully what we will see is a step up in terms of intensity between club footy and ITM Cup. As much as the sides will be underprepared, they need to pull together and play together to allow people to put their best foot forward."
Mooar is keeping an open mind about personnel for the squad, which has to be with the New Zealand Rugby Union in early August.
A minimum 26-strong squad will be named, although Mooar would like to take as many as he can, depending on player budgets.
"Pretty much all positions, across the board, are open. No-one is playing in a position which is not in consideration for the final squad. The squad can be put together in different ways, so every position is being considered. Our plan is to get through this game, and the club final and the Sassenachs game in the last weekend of July, to put things together. That gives everyone as much opportunity as possible."
Mooar's plans have been affected this week by versatile veteran David Hall's serious bicep injury.
The Stags centurion was hurt playing for his Pirates-Old Boys club on Saturday and was to undergo surgery yesterday.
"It's absolutely gutting for him, for club footy and the group as a whole," Mooar said.
"He's a stalwart of Southland rugby and ideally the surgery goes well, he rehabs and he might be fit right near the end, but it's a big shift in things for him."
SOUTHLAND METRO: Micheal Peterson, Liam Howley, Jethro Felemi, Sonny Rongitoheriheri, Chris Barrett, Jaye Thompson, Tony Keresoma, Phil Halder, Dillon Halaholo, Richard Apanui, Malo Magele, Willis Halaholo, Craig Smith, Bryan Milne, Michael Fatialofa, Keanu Kahukura, Jack Falloon, Afi Peturu, Anton Huisman, Taina Tamou, Michael Stewart, Will Murray, Bill Fukofuka, Mike Molloy, Kaleni Taetuli, Warrick Lynn, Dom Collins, Junior Ngaluafe, Billy Soper.
SOUTHLAND COUNTRY: Bill Christie, Spencer Marshall, Mike Donald, Robert Blatch, Sam Stewart, Alex Pierce, Josh Leith, Lachie McCall, Morgan Mitchell, Scott McKee, Logan Dean, Jordan Stewart, Pete Grant, Tim Boys, Morgan Ferguson, Ben Brown, Jack Jones, Luke Caldwell, Ben Fox, Blake Fairbairn, Willie Broughton, Neil Wornock, Brenton Howden, Willie McKee, Sam Parker, Logan Nicholson, Ryan Evans, Jeremy McLeod, Chris Kenning, Brett Winter, Campbell Thompson, Rhys Lamont, Napoliani Serulele, Dylan Winsloe, Bram Fodie.
- The Southland Times
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