The Wellington rugby team will have to defend the Ranfurly Shield on the opening weekend of the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup competition.
The provincial schedule has been released and Wellington will host Otago in the opening round, with the log of wood up for grabs.
The competition starts on Thursday July the 30th with Tasman, who survived the chop last year, playing Taranaki.
In other matches in the first round, Bay of Plenty play Northland, Hawke's Bay play Auckland, North Harbour play Canterbury, Southland play Waikato and Manawatu play Counties Manukau.
The competition will be played over 15 weeks with a full round robin format.
The final will be on Saturday November the 7th.