If this year's Coastline/Bay of Plenty competition is anything to go by, there will be no shortage of attacking talent on display for the Bay Lakers this year.

The Bay of Plenty representative side kicks off their NZRL Inter-District Provincial campaign on Sunday against the Northern Swords at Puketawhero Park.

In the regional qualifiers northern pool, Bay of Plenty, Northland, Waikato and Coastline will play a round robin. The winner will represent the northern region in the New Zealand Championship against the winners of the central and Southland pools.

The winner of that round robin will have the opportunity to play a promotion/relegation game against the bottom team in the New Zealand Premiership.


Lakers head coach Paniora Daniels said Bay of Plenty rugby league was in a "building phase".

"We're quite strong in terms of having players who deserve to be there putting their hands up.

"What we are trying to do is build the Bay of Plenty reputation back up to what it used to be and push players to strive for that pathway to play representative football," Daniels said.

Last year the Lakers failed to make it through the northern pool stage and they were eager to go further this year, he said.

"We need to win every game in this section to go through, so we need to take it game by game and not think about playoffs until we get there."

Winners of the Coastline/BOP competition the Pikiao Warriors and their grand final opponents the Pacific Sharks are strongly represented in the Bay of Plenty side.

Both sides produced some scintillating attack and solid defence throughout the season. If they and their teammates can bring that to the Bay of Plenty side they will be a force to be reckoned with.

"I think across the park we are quite strong. We've got a bit of speed to work with, we've got some experience - guys who have played at a high level - it's looking good.


"[Against Northland on Sunday] I just want to see them complete their sets and keep it simple. If we can attack with what we've got I think it can look really good.

"First and foremost we need to trust each other, trust in what we're trying to achieve and go out there and execute it," Daniels said.

He said the team had come together well and he expected them to gel quickly.

"I think there were glimpses of it the first time we met in July, that there is definitely a different feeling about the culture this year. Everyone's looking for a change and these guys are going to be the ones to develop that."

The captain of the side will be Mangakino halfback Johnson Peri.

"He's been around for a while and pretty much held that club together. The two captains from the final Raureti Grace [Pikiao] and Jeremy Suilepa [Pacific] will be his back-up.

"Johnson will be the sole captain at this stage because I need the other two just to play football and support the team."

Daniels said he did not know a lot about this year's Northern Swords squad, but in the past they had produced big forward packs.

"They try and play the muscle game - touch wood we get some decent weather. I think we can attack in any weather but if it's dry it'll make the spectacle a bit better."

He encouraged members of the public to get down to Puketawhero Park and watch what was expected to be a quality game of rugby league.

NZRL Regional Qualifiers - Northern Pool:

Round 1:
Saturday, August 19
Waikato Development v Coastline. Venue and Kickoff TBC
Sunday, August 20
BOP v Northland at Puketawhero Park, Rotorua. Kickoff 1pm

Round 2:
Saturday, August 26
Coastline v BOP at Mitchell Park, Tauranga. Kickoff 2pm
Sunday, August 27
Northland vs Waikato Development at Trigg Arena, Kensington. Kickoff 2pm

Round 3:
Saturday, September 2
Northland v Coastline at Trigg Arena, Kensington. Kickoff 2pm
BOP v Waikato Development at Puketawhero Park, Rotorua. Kickoff 2pm