The new-look Bay of Plenty Steamers do not have much time to put their combinations together before their Mitre 10 Cup opener away to Northland on Sunday, August 20.

They only have today's warm-up game against Waikato in Hamilton but head coach Clayton McMillan is not worried about needing more pre-season games.

After a competitive club season and weeks of training with his contracted players he knows the base work has been done.

"I want to come out of the pre-season game with more answers than questions. We have been training the last four weeks as a group once we have been able to get the full squad together and a lot of hard work has gone in during the club season," McMillan said.

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"After this week we need to know that some of that work has paid dividends not lots more questions. Pre-season games mean very little once you start the season proper but it does give you an opportunity to put things into practice and players an opportunity to showcase their ability at that level.

"You want to play really tough competition so you know where your level's at so you don't have any surprises."

The 2017 Bay of Plenty Steamers squad is greatly enhanced by arrival of international class in Canada No 8 and new Chiefs signing Tyler Ardron, Maori All Blacks and All Blacks training squad lock Tom Franklin and former All Black Mike Delany, who last played for the Steamers in 2010.

McMillan said their contribution had been massive already.

"We looked further around to who we brought into our environment. Tom Franklin, Mike Delany and Tyler Ardron are guys who are leaders in the professional environments they have come from and are good men.

"We know they are going to come here and offer a lot to a largely young group."

The Baywide club season was the most competitive in years with most teams right in the frame for semifinal places until the final deciding round.

McMillan said the overall standard of club rugby in Bay of Plenty had improved over the last two seasons which could only be a good thing for the Steamers.

"There have been a big influx of people from outside the region that have come here to play club rugby with aspirations of making the Steamers. Some have made it and some have been on a temporary basis covering injuries and before Super Rugby guys come back.

"I think the fact that in the first round 11 teams out of 12 were still in [top eight] contention with one round to play shows it is a pretty intense and close competition.

"In the second round there were seven teams technically still in the running out of eight with one round to go. The third and fourth teams in the last week leap frogging the number one and two teams to get home semifinals.

"I think it is getting better and better."


Bay of Plenty v Waikato, Beetham Park, Hamilton (behind Waikato Stadium), Saturday, 2.30pm