Four Northland Taniwha players have been named in the Blues' squad for next year's Super Rugby competition after a stellar Mitre 10 Cup campaign for their province.
Halfback Sam Nock and loose forwards Josh Goodhue and Tom Robinson, with more than 70 Super Rugby caps between them, return as experienced and key members of the Blues side while Fijian flyer Jone Macilai will be back playing Super Rugby after stints with the Crusaders and in Japan.
He joins an exciting outside backs triumvirate that also features All Black Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea.
Macilai is also part of the inaugural Pacifika team that will play the NZ Maori in Hamilton tonight.
Another Northland player who had a blinder this year was giant lock Sam Caird and he's signed a two-year deal with the New South Wales Waratahs.
The Northland players named in the Blues squad were instrumental in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship run to the final this season, only to fall to Hawke's Bay at Napier a week ago.
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said his team's aim was to play some exciting rugby and entice their fans back in force to Eden Park in the new year.
"We can take confidence from our performances this year. But the game is not an accumulative process – all teams go back to zero points and we start again.
"We know how hard we worked on the field, in the gym and in our preparation this year. We must work even harder and smarter if we want to progress.
"This Blues group is maturing both on and off the field and we have also looked ahead to include some players for the future.
"A number of our group made significant strides this year and we are looking for them to develop into dominant figures. And we are excited about developing our young players who possess some outstanding qualities.
"While Beauden is in Japan this season, we have the likes of Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer who all led their respective teams with real authority in the Mitre-10 Cup campaign.
"It has been a unique and crazy year that began back in January and finishes this week. In a few weeks the players will be back for what will be a short preparation for the 2021 season. We will clearly have to take this into account and monitor our players as they return."