A slew of standout performers from this year's Bayleys Premiership competition have forced their way into the Northland squad for the upcoming Mitre 10 Cup.

Taniwha head coach Derren Witcombe has named a 34-member squad — a mixture of new and experienced players — who have a month to prepare before their first game against North Harbour in Albany on August 16.

Melbourne Rebels first five Jack Debreczeni will run the cutter at first five, with fellow debutant Myles Thoroughgood from Kamo and Wellsford's Tim Blundell the other two No 10s.

Blues halfback Sam Nock is expected to be Northland's first-choice No 9 with Kamo's Mac Sykes and newcomer Jono Kitto from Hikurangi being the next two in the packing order.


Apart from Fijian Ropate Rinakama with 10 games for Northland, the other four props — Paddy Joe Atkins (Wellsford), Isileli Tu'Ungafasi (Mid Northern), Jack Straker (Kamo) and Boyd Wiggins (Old Boys Marist) — will be making their debuts if they run on to the field.

But the three hookers picked have a combined 154 games between them.

Veteran Ross Wright has played 82 matches for the Cambridge Blue and is the most experienced player in the team while Matt Moulds has 45 and Jordan Olsen 27.

Waipu loose forward Sam McNamara is one of a host of debutants named in Northland's Mitre 10 Cup squad. Photo/Tania Whyte
Waipu loose forward Sam McNamara is one of a host of debutants named in Northland's Mitre 10 Cup squad. Photo/Tania Whyte

Northland rugby cult hero Rene Ranger's return to the land of the Taniwha from Japan has fans excited.

He forms an experienced utility back pair alongside fellow Wellsford teammate Jordan Hyland. Both can cover three or more backline positions.

Crusaders and All Black Jack Goodhue and Chiefs' Vereny Regan form a deadly midfield combination while others chosen to play 12 and 13 are Scott Gregory, Blake Hohaia and Tamati Tua.

Goodhue's twin brother Josh, Murray Douglas, Tom Robinson, and Temo Mayanavanua are the four locks.

Witcombe has also picked five loose forwards in Kamo's Kane Jacobson, Matt Matich, Jaycob Matiu, Sam McNamara, and the experienced Kara Pryor.

Injured winger Jone Macilai has been picked although he's out for the season with a broken leg.

Elusive Renata Roberts-Te Nana from OBM is the other wing.

Northland's home games are against Auckland, Taranaki, Manawatu, Southland, and Waikato. The last game is an away match to Bay of Plenty on October 13.

Northland were the second best defensive team and had the third best scrum last season
when the team lost in the semifinal to Wellington and Witcombe wants his team to be 10 per cent better this year.

The team lost loose forward Dan Pryor Japanese club Manukata Sanix Blues and wing Solomon Alaimalo who'll play for Tasman Makos this year after two seasons with the taniwha.

Debreczeni will perhaps garner the most interest and if he marshals the backs and forwards well, the Taniwha should pick up from where it left off last season.

A versatile first five who can also play fullback, Debreczeni has silky hands and deceptive pace with a big boot.

His long distance kicks have attracted attention from the likes of AFL club Essendon in the past.