Northland have named a strong 33-man squad as they look to make a mark on the Mitre 10 Cup in 2017.

Derren Witcombe returns to coach the side that will be desperate to improve on the last two provincial campaigns.

The squad has a good mix of both experience and youth.

Three debutants have been selected in 18-year-old midfielder Scott Gregory, Kamo second five Blake Hohaia and Waipu prop Ropate Rinakama.


Joining them are new signings centre are Jack Goodhue as well as locks Tim Bond and Murray Douglas, who all add experience.

Goodhue returns to his roots after playing for Canterbury from 2014. Bond has been playing for Bay of Plenty while the Scottish-born Douglas arrives from a stint with the Melbourne Rebels to replace the injured Tom Robinson.

The squad has a family feel about it with three sets of brothers in it: Jack and Josh Goodhue, Dan and Kara Pryor and Matt and Ross Wright.

The return of hometown favourite Rene Ranger has the Northland fan base excited. Ranger returns after a four-year absence from the Cambridge Blues, having had stints at Montpellier in France and North Harbour.

His return will be short-lived - he announced his departure to La Rochelle in the French Top 14 following the campaign - but he is wanting a big season for the Taniwha before leaving.

The squad has maintained the core from 2016. The loose forward crew, a strong point of the squad, contains the core of last year's unit with Dan and Kara Pryor, player of the year Matt Matich, Michael Faleafa and Jack Ram all returning.

Chiefs rookie of the year Solomona Alaimalo returns for his second season for Northland and hopes are high that he replicates his commanding 2016 form from fullback.

The locks have a different feel with Bond and Douglas joining Kamo's Josh Goodhue in the second row.

The same halfbacks have been retained with Sam Nock, Malcolm MacLeod and Matty Markwick.

Peter Breen and Dan Hawkins will marshal the side around the park from first five while NZ Under 20s player Tamati Tua joins an imposing midfield.

Northland fans will be desperate for a change of fortunes from the last two seasons where the Taniwha picked up a solitary victory.

Northland kick off their campaign at home when they face Bay of Plenty on August 20.

Northland Mitre 10 Cup squad
Solomon Alaimalo (Otamatea), Matt Wright (Wellsford)
Jone Macilai (Awanui)
Jordan Hyland (Wellsford), Rene Ranger (Wellsford)
Troy Gilbert (OBM), Jack Goodhue (United Kawakawa), Scott Gregory (Hikurangi), Blake Hohaia (Kamo), Tamati Tua (Hikurangi)
First Fives:
Peter Breen (OBM), Dan Hawkins (Otamatea)
Malcolm MacLeod (Mid Northern), Matty Markwick (OBM), Sam Nock (Kerikeri)

Loose Forwards:
Michael Faleafa (Hikurangi), Matt Matich (Western Sharks), Jaycob Matiu (Hora Hora), Dan Pryor (OBM), Kara Pryor (OBM), Jack Ram (Kerikeri)
Tim Bond (Hikurangi), Murray Douglas (Awanui), Josh Goodhue (Kamo), Josh Larsen (Mid Northern)
Chris Apoua (Mid Northern), Phil Kite (OBM), Ropate Rinakama (Waipu), Howard Sililoto (OBM), Namatahi Waa (Hikurangi)
Matt Moulds (Otamatea), Jordan Olsen (Mid Northern), Ross Wright (Wellsford)

Northland draw for Mitre 10 Cup
vs. Bay of Plenty - August 20 at 2:35pm
vs. Auckland - August 26 at 4:35pm
vs. Southland - September 2 at 5:05pm
vs. Waikato - September 9 at 4:35pm
vs. North Harbour - September 14 at 7.35pm
vs. Manawatu - September 22 at 7:35pm
vs. Otago - September 27 at 7:35pm
vs. Counties - October 1 at 4:35pm
vs. Hawke's Bay - October 7 at 5:05pm
vs. Wellington - October 12 at 7:35pm
*bold denotes home game at Toll Stadium