Two games in Fiji and the annual clash with New Zealand Marist are on the agenda for the New Zealand Heartland XV.

The matches, to be played between November 5-11, will see the team play New Zealand Marist for the Ian McCrae Cup before travelling to Fiji to play Nadi and Nadroga.

The 26-man New Zealand Heartland XV squad, which has been selected from the 2016 Heartland Championship, sees 11 of the 12 Heartland provincial unions represented.
The team has 15 new caps (denoted by *) and 12 players will be running out in Meads Cup and Lochore Cup finals this weekend.

The squad includes 20-year-old winger Te Rangatira Waitokia from Wanganui, who is the Heartland Championship's top tryscorer and James Lash from Buller, who is top points scorer.


South Canterbury's Barry Matthews and Poverty Bay's Mutu Ngarimu will coach the team.

Matthews said he expects the Heartland XV to be competitive in their upcoming fixtures.
"We've picked the team on form. It doesn't matter if you are an 18-year-old selected for the first time or a 36-year-old war horse, if they are playing good rugby then we have picked them for the team.

"The Heartland competition is getting better every year. It proves the competitiveness of the competition that 11 of the provincial teams are represented in the squad.

"The team will only come together next week so we will need to keep the game plan simple. That said, we have a big forward pack and some exciting backs, so we will want to use the ball a bit.

"We are looking forward to the annual clash with New Zealand Marist for the McCrae Cup. It's always a close game and will be a good warm-up for the games in Fiji.

"The games in Fiji will be tough. Fiji loves its rugby and after winning the sevens gold in Rio, they will confident heading into these games."

The New Zealand Heartland XV squad will assemble in Auckland on November 2 ahead of the Marist match on November 5.

In 2015, the Heartland XV won the Ian McCrae Cup fixture but lost both games to the Australian Barbarians, picked from the NRC.

The New Zealand Heartland XV squad is: Dan Hytongue *, James Lash (Buller), Aaron Lahmert *, Willie Paia'aua *, Scott Cameron * (Horowhenua Kapiti), James Hemara, Zayn Tipping, John Koko *, Aarin Dunster (King Country), Jackson Donlan, Maleli Sau *, Nete Caucau * (Mid Canterbury), Ralph Darling, Lemi Masoe (North Otago), Everard Reid *, Siosiua Moala * (Poverty Bay), Timaru Tafa, Kieran Coll * (South Canterbury), Hayden Wisnewski * (Thames Valley), Eddie Cranston *, Sam Monaghan (Wairarapa-Bush), Lindsay Horrocks, Peter Rowe, Viki Tofa *, Te Rangatira Waitokia * (Wanganui), Josh Manning * (West Coast)