Josh Goodhue will make his return to the Northland lineup as they look to pick up a vital away Mitre 10 Cup win against Manawatu.

Northland have made three changes from the side that lost a thrilling contest against unbeaten Premiership side North Harbour.

Blake Hohaia will make his first start in the Cambridge Blue from second five, pushing the impressive Jack Goodhue out one spot to centre. Rene Ranger shifts to the bench.

In the pack there is a new locking pairing as Josh Goodhue and Josh Larsen pair up in place of Murray Douglas and Tim Bond.


Douglas moves to the reserves while Bond is out of the 23 altogether after suffering an ankle sprain.

Kara Pryor is also set to make his return from the bench while Chris Apoua replaces fellow prop Howard Sililoto.

Goodhue has been missing since suffering a concussion against Southland and is a welcome addition to the lineup.

Northland will be gunning for a victory to carry on their early season form, despite hitting a minor speed bump when two late tries led to their 31-22 defeat at the hands of North Harbour.

The Taniwha continue to search for a complete performance and, despite strong wins against Bay of Plenty, Southland and Waikato, are still hungry for improvement.

Captain Matt Moulds said they want to keep improving and depth has been a key to their performances so far in 2017.

"We're trying to play that 80-minute game but we've come a really long way," he said.

"We just need to fix up a few little things but that's rugby, you know. We've always got a few things to work on but we'll be ready to go."

"We've got a lot of depth in this side and, when guys get a crack, they perform."

Manawatu will be hard-pressed to pile on points against Northland, who going into week six are the top defensive side across both divisions of the Mitre 10 Cup in terms of points conceded.

They also head the list in tackling percentage as their defensive scheme works wonders in their red zone.

In a competition dominated by the attacking side of the ball (Wellington put 60 points on Premiership leaders Canterbury on Sunday), Northland are proving how vital defence still is.

They still sit second on the Championship ladder on 16 competition points, 11 points behind runaway leaders Wellington, but they can't feel too comfortable there.

Their next two opponents Otago and Manawatu are in striking position as they sit two and five points behind respectively.

Manawatu have their strengths though, which Northland need to be wary of. They rate highly in lineout completion percentage while leading the competition in ruck success.

However defensively they have struggled through their campaign, which could open the door for Northland.

The match kicks off at 7.35pm tomorrow night.

Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Jack Goodhue, Blake Hohaia, Jone Macilai, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Jaycob Matiu, Dan Pryor, Jack Ram, Josh Goodhue, Josh Larsen, Ropate Rinakama, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Chris Apoua, Phil Kite, Murray Douglas, Kara Pryor, Matty Markwick, Peter Breen, Rene Ranger.