Bay of Plenty sunshine is traded for blistering Southland conditions this Sunday as the Steamers fly to Invercargill for a tough away matchup against the Stags in Round 2 of the Bunnings NPC.
Both sides are looking to ignite their 2021 campaigns after suffering opening round defeats at the hands of Tasman (BOP lost 27-14) and Otago (Southland lost 26-19), respectively.
"Tasman did us a favour by revealing our gaps and what we need to improve to compete with the best teams in the NPC," Steamers head coach Daryl Gibson said.
"We have clearly identified the areas we need to improve and the areas that with a bit of polish can become a point of difference for us, Southland at home is always a challenging game."
Since 2010, the Steamers have won seven of their last 10 outings against the Stags, including four straight wins and a three from five winning record at Rugby Park.
However, the Stags have also recruited well this off-season. Chiefs representative Lisati Milo-Harris has joined the side alongside Tauranga Boys' College old boy Caleb Aperahama, who sadly suffered a season-ending injury in last week's season opener.
Marty Banks, Isaac Te Tamaki and Solomon Alaimalo are also expected to lace up for Sunday's clash, while the prominent Ethan De Groot remains absent after being called into the All Blacks as injury cover.
The match also marks the first time Steamers lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit and prop Pasilio Tosi will face their former team after spending four and two years with Southland respectively.
"I'm grateful to the Stags organisation for the time I spent down there," Selby-Rickit said.
"They gave me my first opportunity to play professional rugby. They're a great bunch - the staff, the players, and the fans."
Both men say they're looking forward to playing their old team for the first time in Bay of Plenty colours.
The Bay of Plenty Steamers face Southland Stags at 2.05pm on Sunday at Rugby Park, Invercargill.
Bay of Plenty Steamers v Southland Stags
1. Aidan Ross (c)
2. Nathan Vella
3. Jeff Thwaites
4. Stan van den Hoven
5. Manaaki Selby-Rickit
6. Nikora Broughton*
7. Mitch Karpik
8. Whetukamokamo Douglas
9. Luke Campbell
10. Kaleb Trask
11. Onisi Ratave*
12. Inga Finau
13. Sean Wainui
14. Emoni Narawa
15. Chase Tiatia
16. Nathan Harris
17. Haereiti Hetet
18. Pasilio Tosi
19. Justin Sangster
20. Semisi Paea*
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
22. Lucas Cashmore
23. Lalomilo Lalomilo