By Bay of Plenty Rugby
The Bay of Plenty Steamers are set and ready for the ultimate round one test against the reigning Bunnings Warehouse Premiership champions Tasman.
An impressive Steamers XV equipped with Super Rugby calibre talent will take to the Tauranga Domain this Sunday with the hopes of avenging their semi-final defeat at the hands of the Mako last season.
Each team has enjoyed successful pre-season campaigns, including Steamers victories over Counties Manukau and North Harbour and Mako's wins over Canterbury and Southland.
Steamers head coach Daryl Gibson said although they were pleased with the results and the tight-knit team culture developed in the side, a strong pre-season meant little if they were unable to convert their positive momentum into their NPC campaign.
"We have prepared well this week, and we are excited and prepared for what will most certainly be a great opening test v the defending champions," Gibson said.
"We have used this pre-season as an opportunity to find our team identity and what we stand for. We are proud of the way the boys have aligned with what we want to achieve this season.
"Now is the time to put words to action and represent our region with mana and pride."
Tasman will also be housing a strong side worthy of the reigning champions, however, they will be missing All Blacks Will Jordan, David Havili, and new signing Sevu Reece, to name a few.
"All Blacks or not, we are certainly not underestimating this Tasman side. We know how good and dangerous they are and we will be leaving it all out on the park come Sunday," Steamers captain Aidan Ross said.
"We are prepared for an 80-minute battle and can't wait to get one back on Tasman for last year."
Bay of Plenty Steamers squad to play Tasman at Tauranga Domain 2pm Sunday. (subject to change):
1. Aidan Ross (C)
2. Kurt Eklund
3. Jeff Thwaites
4. Stan Van den Hoven
5. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
6. Angus Scott-Young
7. Mitch Karpik
8. Whetukamokamo Douglas
9. Luke Campbell
10. Kaleb Trask
11. Sekuni Tanimo
12. Kaveinga Finau
13. Sean Wainui
14. Onisi Ratave (not cleared to play)
15. Chase Tiatia
16. Nathan Vella
17. Haereiti Hetet
18. Villiami-Pasilio Tosi
19. Justin Sangster
20. Penitoa Finau
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
22. Leroy Carter
23. Emoni Narawa