Eight debutants have been named in Northland's 23-man lineup for this Sunday's 2015 ITM Cup opener versus Hawkes Bay in Napier, a match which doubles as a Ranfurly Shield encounter.

New Zealand Under-20s lock Josh Goodhue - a front-runner for consideration after his sturdy effort helped New Zealand claim the World Rugby U20 Championship - and new Blues recruit Sam Nock both denoted their willingness to step up to the mark through the pre-season and have been rewarded places in the side as a result of this.

"Considering we've got some injuries at the top end, it's our best side to take the field," Taniwha head coach Richie Harris said.

With plenty of competition for positions, last Friday's pre-season match versus Waikato helped to solidify the remaining places.


Harris said selectors pretty much had to "toss a coin" when deciding between Goodhue and Wellsford's Sean Sweetman for the remaining lock spot.

However, Goodhue's international experience was hard to overlook.

"Sean's had a really good club season and was certainly pushing for a starting position," he said.

Sweetman will, instead, start off the bench for his first run while Mid Northern's Waisea Lawebuka gets his first shot on the wing in the Cambridge blue jersey, as does Otamatea's Jordan Hyland who will start in second-five.

Also on debut will be Hikurangi's Dominic Robertson-McCoy - a player who earned his patch after performing well in last week's pre-season match versus Waikato - as well as Sydenham's Taniela Manu and Grammar TEC centre Dave Thomas who will bring his experience playing for Auckland and Bay of Plenty to the fray.

Northland: Howard Sililoto, Matt Moulds, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Josh Goodhue, Michael Stolberg, Shane Neville, Kara Pryor, Taniela Manu, Kurt Davies, Dan Hawkins, Jone Macilai, Jordan Hyland, Dave Thomas, Waisea Lawebuka, Mathew Wright. Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Ross Wright, Matt Talaese, Sean Sweetman, Jaycob Matiu, Sam Nock, Troy Gilbert, Filipo Nakosi.