The term "culture" in a rugby context has been thrown around increasingly over the last two years.

From the Aaron Smith and Jerome Kaino sagas to last year's "Strippergate" and the Losi Filipo assault case, it hasn't always been the desired usage of the word.

However, in Northland the team ethos has been something they've rallied behind and to good effect.

Northland make their first semifinal appearance in three years on Friday night when they take on highly-fancied Wellington in the capital.


It's a far cry from their previous two campaigns where a solitary victory was all they could muster. However, from the outside looking in it seems easy to identify the reasons Northland are in the position they are.

Experience, resolve, defensive nous - all these things are a staple of the Taniwha diet in 2017 but it's all pulled together by a strong team culture.

Some may say it wasn't there previously but captain Matt Moulds said it was something that had been within the camp for some time.

"For people looking in from the outside it looks like there's been a big culture change because they're seeing the results on the field. I believe we've always had a good culture between the players," he said.

"Our issue had been transferring that culture on to the field and actually being able to showcase what we're capable of to our supporters.

"We've definitely got a good culture and it's bound together by good values and good blokes."

The performances on the field are starting to match their work ethic off the field, picking up five victories during the regular season as well as a few tight losses.

Coach Derren Witcombe is happy with the progress of the team off the field and hopes it continues to translate to the field over the next couple of years.

"We've got a strong culture and it's developing every week. We always want to get it better, especially over the next couple of years," he said.

"We certainly have some values that we live by and that's given us some direction this season.

"The players have bought into it. The management have bought into it. It's a good sign for us going forward.

"It sets a platform for things to come."

And that platform begins with captain Moulds, who has been a pillar of professionalism in the leadership role.

His combination with Ross Wright and Ropate Rinakama has been well-documented over the season but it's his leadership that has set the tone for the squad.

Moulds said there was a lot of gratification in leading the Taniwha.

"I'm massively proud of us and the province. I love playing here," he said.

"It's my home and anyone who comes and plays for the Taniwha, it's our goal to make it their home as well.

"Just seeing the team grow over the last couple of years has been awesome for me.

"Growing my own game and leadership has been a big part of it but it's all helped out by some great people in the region and I'm proud to lead this side."