Derren Witcombe has named an experienced side for Northland's Mitre 10 Cup opener against Bay of Plenty.

The outfit that will walk on to Toll Stadium on Sunday will boast 543 Northland caps.

Bay of Plenty will be tough to beat with their exciting squad and Witcombe thinks the battle of the packs will be pivotal.

"They'll play a fast and expansive game once they get go-forward in the pack. Once they get go-forward in the pack, they've got a reasonable scrum and lineout," he said.


"They like to maul so we're going to have to front up with our forward pack and get some ascendancy so we can play our game. I believe that will be the key."

Matt Moulds will once again captain the side from hooker, where he will be partnered in the front row by talented props Howard Sililoto and Namatahi Waa.

Moulds said they were feeling good and focused on the task at hand.

"There's a lot of belief in the camp but we are trying to stay grounded and understand where we sit," he said.

"We've had a little bit of a look at them [Bay of Plenty] in pre-season but you never really know during that time. The picture can change so it's more about us and getting our own systems going and working well."

Tim Bond will make his Northland debut against his old province as he pairs with Josh Goodhue in the locking department, with fellow debutant Murray Douglas on the blindside flank.

Dan and Kara Pryor will take their spots at No8 and openside flanker looking to lead from the front.

In the halves, Blues' halfback Sam Nock gets the nod and will partner with Dan Hawkins.

The midfield is a contrast in experience but not in excitement as New Zealand Under-20's star Tamati Tua pairs with Rene Ranger in his first provincial game for Northland since 2013.

Jack Goodhue was unavailable for selection for the fixture after a heavy workload during the Crusaders' Super Rugby campaign but will be in contention to debut for Northland against Auckland.

The outside back combination has the potential to blow the game wide open as Chiefs rookie of the year Solomon Alaimalo and Jordan Hyland pair up on the wings.

Matt Wright will be at fullback.

The bench has a wealth of experience with front rowers Jordan Olsen and Ross Wright, loose forwards Jack Ram and Matt Matich as well as backs Peter Breen and Jone Macilai.

Waipu prop Ropate Rinakama has a chance to make his provincial debut from the bench while halfback Malcolm MacLeod will also be hoping to make an impact.

The match kicks off at 2:35pm.

Northland: Matt Wright, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Tamati Tua, Solomon Alaimalo, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Dan Pryor, Kara Pryor, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Josh Goodhue, Namatahi Wa'a, Matt Moulds, Howard Sililoto.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Ross Wright, Ropate Rinakama, Jack Ram, Matt Matich, Malcolm MacLeod, Peter Breen, Jone Macilai.