There's a different feel about the Northland line-up this week with seven personnel changes as they chase a victory in Invercargill against Southland.

With there also being five positional changes, the side will bare little resemblance to the team that pushed Auckland to the brink last week. However, that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous.

Solomon Alaimalo moves to fullback, joining Jordan Hyland and Jone Macilai in a revamped back three. Rene Ranger moves back to centre after lining up on the wing last week, while Jack Goodhue goes one place in at second five.

Dan Hawkins returns to the starting line-up as Peter Breen heads back to the bench. Sam Nock is retained at halfback.


While there are line-up changes, Alaimalo said their preparations would not be much different.

"We're not really changing much. We're going to approach Southland the way we prepared for Auckland," he said.

"There'll be a bit of emphasis on trying to utilise our backline. The one thing coming out of that game [against Auckland] was taking our opportunities when the key moments come up."

Matt Matich will make his first start of the season from the base of the scrum, replacing Dan Pryor who is out of the 23 altogether.

Jack Ram switches to the openside flanker while Murray Douglas returns to the blindside after starting at lock last week.

Josh Goodhue returns to the starting 15 to pair Tim Bond in the second row while the front row has a new look as Ross Wright and Phil Kite are rewarded with their first starts of 2017.

Captain Matt Moulds lines up once again at hooker.

Assistant coach Dale MacLeod said Southland would pose a big challenge to Northland.

"They love stuff in and around the breakdown. They're very dogged and they'll fight for the 80 minutes," he said.

"They are tough and we are going to have to grind it out down there and attack space. They're good in the loose, have a tough forward pack and have tough defence.

"We know they are going to be a great challenge but we've just got to do what we're doing, do it well and keep improving."

On the bench there are also changes. Howard Sililoto, Kara Pryor and Breen all will start on the pine while Matty Markwick returns to the 23 after missing the Auckland clash.

Kamo midfielder Blake Hohaia is set to make his Northland debut while loose forward Jaycob Matiu and Chris Apoua will make their first appearances of 2017.

Jordan Olsen will again back up Moulds.

MacLeod said the side was excited, not only for the Southland battle, but about the year in general after two promising performances.

"They know they've got it all to play for and are really excited by what lies ahead," he said.

"It's only week three and the boys are really positive. They know it's a tough grind. We're really excited for the challenge of Southland this week."

The match kicks off at Rugby Park in Invercargill at 5:05pm tomorrow.

Northland: Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger, Jack Goodhue, Jone Macilai, Dan Hawkins, Sam Nock, Matt Matich, Jack Ram, Murray Douglas, Tim Bond, Josh Goodhue, Phil Kite, Matt Moulds (c), Ross Wright.
Reserves: Jordan Olsen, Howard Sililoto, Chris Apoua, Jaycob Matiu, Kara Pryor, Matty Markwick, Peter Breen, Blake Hohaia.