Northland centurion Hayden Taylor sees some similarities between Northland's NPC Division Two winning team from 1997 and their 2017 Mitre 10 Cup squad.

The former fullback was an integral member of the 1997 squad who won the title, scoring 16 tries in their 10 wins.

Taylor likes what he has seen from the team this year.

"It's been fantastic so far. It is a huge turnaround from the last couple of years," he said.

Advertisement

"It's great to see them play with a bit of ticker, particularly in that first game against Bay of Plenty."

Assistant coach Dale MacLeod has previously spoke of the importance of experience in this year's side, who have won two of their first three matches of the season, and Taylor said that was something they had in 1997.

"There's a bit of continuity there. We came together in 95-96 and gelled in 1997," he said.

"We were a bit older, a bit more mature and from that things happened. It seems to be the same thing this year."

Northland had a strong squad in 1997 which, much like the side 20 years on, combined an exciting backline with a strong, hardworking forward pack.

Both the 1997 and 2017 had players who would represent the All Blacks (Norm Berryman, Norm Maxwell and Glenn Taylor in 1997, Rene Ranger in 2017) while both sides had a good chunk of men with Super Rugby experience.

Taylor led the try-scoring tally with 16, while standout flanker Justin Collins (12) and the late Norm Berryman (10) hit double figures. First five David Holwell had 204 points in a season where Northland scored 100 tries.

But the main thing Northland had in 1997, said Taylor, was a sense of belief in their abilities.

"We had a lot of self-belief. We had trust in our systems and believed in each other," he said.

"We just believed in each other and played for each other and played for Northland. It was a pretty special time to be honest.

"We were all great mates and got along. It was a pretty amazing effort really."

Northland are playing with that same sense of belief that was so important in the 1997 effort, when they beat a Central Vikings side that included legendary All Blacks fullback Christian Cullen 63-10 in the final.

But do they have what it takes to be a factor at the business end of the competition?

"Playoffs are there if they keep going the way they're going and they never give up, like in that performance against Bay of Plenty the first week," Taylor said.

"They were down and out and they came back which showed the true colours of the team. They fought until the 80th minute whereas in the last couple of years they faded in the second half."