The Bay of Plenty Lakers are preparing to take things to the next level against Wellington.

Wins over Coastline and Northland and a loss to Waikato Development were enough for the Lakers to finish top in the New Zealand Championship regional qualifiers northern pool.

They now represent the northern region in the championship during which they play Wellington away today and Southland at home in a fortnight.

The winner of that round robin will play the loser of the New Zealand Premiership for the opportunity to be promoted next season.


Bay of Plenty coach Paniora Daniels wants his players to play with confidence today.

After playing in atrocious conditions in recent weeks he was also hoping for some dry weather, which would allow the Lakers' backs to show what they can do.

"We don't know a lot about Wellington but it will definitely be a step up from the qualifiers. It's the top of each region so I expect it to be another step up.

"I just want to see a bit of confidence and we are praying for the weather to be fine. It will be good to get a fast track.

"I want them to defend really well, I know Wellington will come up the middle, so we need to keep that tight and then when we do have opportunities to have a decent crack," Daniels said.

Bay of Plenty are missing a handful of players through injury and work commitments, but Daniels was confident in the team he had named.

"We've had a few changes but the players that have come in are pretty handy as well. We've had two weeks [since our last game] so we took the opportunity to freshen them up a bit - they haven't really had a decent break since club footy."

He said the three qualifying games were all very different, which helped prepare the side for different situations.

"Everyone is still finding their feet in that round, we know where we needed to be and we've got there. For us now, it's about stepping up to the next level."

He said the biggest positive so far for the Lakers was being able to bring a group of guys together to represent the Bay who had bought into the team's culture.

"The biggest thing for Bay of Plenty rugby league is we have a rep team that everyone can aspire to be in."

Bay of Plenty Lakers team to play Wellington
1. William Cook
2. Quentin Ryan
3. Cameron Walters
4. Dylan Shortland
5. Pesini Tavake
6. Johnson Peri
7. Kale Pomare
8. Aussie Tuwhangai
9. Destry Tamai
10. Rikihana Te Rangi
11. Opeta Utanga
12. Jeremy Siulepa
13. Jason Whareaitu

14. Darcy Hunt
15. Scott Evans
16.Matt Filipo
17. Kihiroa Wihapi