Tim Southee has been champing at the bit for a return to first-class cricket. Therefore it was no surprise that he took little time to get to work during Northern Districts' opening Plunket Shield match of the season against Wellington at Seddon Park, Hamilton.

Snaring the wicket of captain Michael Papps through an lbw in the opening minutes of the first session yesterday, Southee went on to find his second victim, No3 Stephen Murdoch, not long after.

Bowling economically alongside fellow paceman and Black Cap Trent Boult, Southee played a healthy part in restricting Wellington's first innings run-rate early into play.

Finding some consistency with the bat, Wellington managed to bounce back thanks to a strong mid-wicket partnership between Tom Blundell and Luke Ronchi.

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However, Southee had different plans as he returned for his second spell with the ball.

Disposing of Blundell first, Southee then prevented Black Caps teammate Ronchi from adding to a damaging 115-run total for his fourth wicket, before claiming the wicket of Matt McEwan - his fifth for the innings - to close the day on 5/56 off his 15 overs.

Amping to get some serious overs in at the crease after one of his lengthiest spells in recent times, Southee said he was relishing the opportunity to get stuck in for the Plunket Shield opener.

"It's always good to come back and train and play with the Northern Districts boys," Southee said, "it'll be good preparation leading into the [Black Caps] Aussie series."

With all the Black Caps returning to their domestic sides for the opening Plunket Shield round, bar captain Brendon McCallum, Southee said his biggest focus for the fixture against Wellington involved managing his workload.

"It's all pretty simple ... for a few weeks we've been outdoors on grass and it's just about getting the loads back up and getting into full swing leading into the season.

"It's all sort of monitored, we ease back into the bowling. We don't all of a sudden start bowling 20 overs a day.

"It's all planned out and you work your way into it ... there's lots of planning that goes into the loads, what we should be doing, and how much we should be bowling in a week."

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Making tracks to Australia at the close of the current Plunket Shield round, Southee's next focus will require a much more concentrated effort.

"The goal is to go over there and win the series. We're playing some pretty good test cricket at the moment, but it's not an easy place to go."

-Wellington 267 (L Ronchi 115, T Blundell 53, J Patel 34; T Southee 5-56, J Baker 2-36) Northern Districts 94/1 (D Flynn 56, K Williamsom 20no).