Northland will be hoping for a repeat of 2016 for a change as they look to once again beat Waikato at Toll Stadium.

Two changes have been made to the starting side that accounted for Southland 44-13 in their Mitre 10 Cup clash with Dan Pryor and Ropate Rinakama coming into the forward pack.

Pryor's inclusion at openside flanker for the concussed Josh Goodhue forces a shuffle of positions. Jack Ram moves to the blindside meaning Murray Douglas joins Tim Bond in the second row.

Rinakama meanwhile comes in to the starting lineup for Phil Kite, who moves to the bench while Chris Apoua drops out of the 23. This will be Rinakama's first start in Northland colours.


The backline remains the same after their impressive outing in Invercargill.

Coach Derren Witcombe said he had been really happy with Northland's attitude so far and the ability of those coming into the side to perform.

"We scored six tries against Southland which was good, we're really happy with that. Also the guys' attitude to go out and play rugby and have fun which we are big on," he said.

"Everyone we brought in, including the change on the day [Tim Blundell on to the bench for Peter Breen] except for two were forced through injuries.

"They weren't all changes for the sake of it. We're really happy with how the team reacted to that and the way the guys came in performed.

"It was like we hadn't lost anyone at all. We're really happy with the depth at the moment, we just don't want any more injuries."

Already the services of Malcolm MacLeod, Goodhue, Matty Wright, Kara Pryor, Breen and Tamati Tua have been hampered by injury, leaving them unavailable for the vital clash with Waikato.

However, Witcombe has been happy with the competition for places in the line-up.

"We've got a few niggles to be honest, but the guys coming in are fronting up, doing the job and taking their opportunities so it's really good at creating a competitive feel inside the camp," he said.

Waikato have named a strong side to try reverse last year's 48-27 defeat in Whangarei.

While captain Dwayne Sweeney is still sidelined with a groin injury, there is plenty of excitement in the backline with centre Sevu Reece and fullback Zac Guildford always dangerous.

Hurricanes midfielder Pita Ahki will make his Waikato debut from second five while they have a constant try-scoring threat in No8 Jordan Manihera, who leads the Mitre 10 Cup with six.

Witcombe is hoping for a big turnout from the Taniwha faithful tomorrow afternoon.

"We want the fans to get out there in numbers for the Waikato game," he said.

"The guys get a massive lift from the fans and they're a big part of how we perform so to see as many as we can in Northland colours would be brilliant."

The match kicks off at 4:35pm.

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

Waikato: Zac Guildford, Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, Sevu Reece, Pita Ahki, Tyler Campbell, Sam Christie, Pele Cowley, Jordan Manihera, Mitch Jacobson, Luke Jacobson, James Tucker, Jacob Skeen (c), Sefo Kautai, Hame Faiva, Loni Uhila.
Reserves: Samison Taukei-aho, Ayden Johnstone, Duke Nginingini, Leva Fifita, Adam Burn, Harrison Levien, Matty Lansdown, Bailyn Sullivan.