All the action as Waikato take on Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Waikato will gain some much-needed experience in the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup as the long-term trek back to the top of provincial rugby begins its latest chapter.

This time a year ago, Waikato named eight players under the age of 20 in their starting XV to tackle a star-studded Canterbury in their opening match of the Mitre 10 Cup.

Experience was seriously lacking, all but two of the 14 contracted Super Rugby players were either unavailable or injured.

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But despite just three wins from their 10 games, the province had once again unearthed some talented youngsters who, through getting their first taste of the professional game, caught the eye as skilled players with solid future prospects, such as Scottish import Hamilton Burr and the talented Simon Parker.

The same is on the cards this year, with young standout Otorohanga halfback Cortez Ratima being one example of doing enough in club rugby after previously co-captaining the NZ Secondary Schools Sevens team and representing the Chiefs Under-20s.

In 2020, Liam Messam has been the big offseason signing and will be joined by veteran loose forward and former Rugby World Cup winner Adam Thomson who has stayed in the region after his stint with the Chiefs.

In the backs, former Super Rugby winner Patrick Osborne has travelled up from Canterbury and will help fill in the gap left by the departing Declan O'Donnell and the injured Solomon Aliamalo.

Fletcher Smith will again likely be tasked with marshalling the backline but will have the support of All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie in parts.

- Hamilton News