There is a logjam of quality loose forwards in the Northland Taniwha squad named for next month's Mitre 10 Cup.
Former Auckland loose forward Matt Matich is named alongside the Pryor brothers, Kara and Dan, both of whom have enjoyed fine Super Rugby campaigns with the Blues and Highlanders respectively.
Thirty-six players in all have been named. All are Northland-based and, outside the Super players, play club rugby in Northland.
Five academy players have been included in order to further develop and to provide cover for injured players, returning Super players and players involved in club finals through the pre-season window. Of note among those academy players is prop Sesimani Tupou, fresh out of St Kentigern College, where he played in an unprecedented five 1A finals.
The Taniwha open their Championship campaign on August 19 against the Manawatu Turbos in Whangarei.
Northland's three pre-season games are:
North Harbour (QBE Stadium, Friday July 29, 2:30pm)
Bay of Plenty (Whakatane, Friday August 5, 3:00pm)
Counties Manukau/All Blacks (Pukekohe, Friday August 12, 5:30pm)
The squad is, with franchise, club and Northland caps listed:
Props: Chris Apoua (Mid Northern, 0), Phil Kite (OBM, 0) Howard Sililoto (OBM, 16), Matt Talaese (Wellsford, 8), Namatahi Wa'a (Blues, Hikurangi, 17) Sesimani Tupou (Academy, Otamatea, 0)
Hookers: Matt Moulds (Blues, Otamatea, 28), Jordan Olsen (Mid Northern, 12) Ross Wright (Wellsford, 63)
Locks: Josh Goodhue (United Kawakawa, 7), Shane Neville (Otamatea, 18), Tom Robinson (Western Sharks, 0), Sean Sweetman (Wellsford, 8), Josh Larsen (Academy, Mid Northern, 0)
Loose forwards: Michael Faleafa (Hikurangi, 0), Matt Matich (Western Sharks, 0), Dan Pryor (Highlanders, OBM, 53), Kara Pryor (Blues, OBM, 21), Jack Ram (Blues, Kerikeri, 20) Aorangi Stokes (OBM, 0), Epineri Uluviti (Academy, Awanui, 0)
Halfbacks: Matty Markwick (OBM, 0), Malcolm McLeod (Mid Northern, 0), Sam Nock (Blues, Kerikeri, 10)
First fives: Peter Breen (OBM, 0), Dan Hawkins (Rebels, Otamatea, 30)
Midfielders: Warren Dunn (Hora Hora, 24), Troy Gilbert (OBM, 20), Jordan Hyland (Otamatea, 9), Tamati Tua (Hikurangi, 0), James Cherrington (Academy, Mid Northern, 0)
Outside backs: Solomon Alaimalo (Otamatea, 0), Monty Lama (OBM, 0), Waisea Lawebuka (Mid Northern, 7), Jone Macilai (Crusaders, Awanui, 19), Levi Clark (Academy, Mid Northern, 0)