With the Mitre 10 Cup set to kick off next week, Christopher Reive highlights some of the players who could either stake their claims for higher honours — or attempt to get back in the good books of some Super Rugby and All Blacks selectors.

Vaea Fifita

Wellington

The All Blacks selectors have made it clear they see the 26-year-old as a blindside flanker. The Hurricanes see him as a lock, played him there through the Super Rugby season, and it probably cost him a place in the national squad for the Rugby Championship. So he'll suit up for Wellington, and it's worth keeping an eye on where he lines up.

Kiniviliame Naholo

Taranaki

The younger brother of All Blacks winger Waisake, Kiniviliame Naholo has shown glimpses in two pre-season Ranfurly Shield defences to excite Taranaki fans. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who can match the 19-year-old winger for pace, he has plenty of strength, and can dazzle defenders with his footwork.

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Etene Nanai-Seturo

Counties Manukau

In his debut season at Mitre 10 Cup level, there will be plenty of eyes on the highly-touted young fullback. The 18-year-old has shown his worth in the seven-man format, but will it translate to the 15-a-side game?

Tiaan Falcon

Hawke's Bay

With Ihaia West taking up a deal in France, Falcon will take the reins as the Magpies' No 10. Having missed the majority of the Chiefs' Super Rugby campaign this season due to injury, Falcon will no doubt be eager to get some game time under his belt.

He's playing in behind a strong pack this season, which includes Hurricanes standout loose forward Gareth Evans and Chiefs teammate Michael Allardice at lock. Falcon will have every opportunity to impress.

Rene Ranger

Northland

He's back. The cult hero has returned to Northland following a short stint in France. He was released by La Rochelle after making just a handful of appearances for the French club. The 31-year-old played in all of Northland's matches last season, and should feature just as heavily this time around. The question here is will he be able to produce his dominant best?

Jordan Manihera

Waikato

Manihera announced himself in the opening match of the 2017 season with a hat-trick against Taranaki at Yarrow Stadium. One week later, he pushed his try tally to five with a brace against Bay of Plenty. The loose forward should again be an integral cog in the Waikato engine room as they look to find their way back into the premiership.

Dylan Nel

Otago

Unlikely to get a look in among the crowded Canterbury loose forwards stocks, the Durban-born Nel has travelled further south to try to forge himself a role in Otago colours. The 25-year-old is a strong ball-runner, more than capable of bagging his share of tries this season.

Stephen Perofeta

Taranaki

Incumbent first five-eighth Marty McKenzie has been ruled out for the season due to a hip injury, and Perofeta is the logical choice to replace him in the No10 jersey. After a mediocre season for the Blues, lining up for a strong Taranaki side will give him a chance to show why he's been touted as the man to end the Blues' agony.

Jackson Ormond

Southland

After seven years in Taranaki's backline ranks, Jackson Ormond has gone south looking for more opportunities to get on to the paddock. His 2017 campaign was derailed by a broken fibula, he'll be looking to get back to his best with a new squad. With 57 provincial appearances to his name, Ormond brings a wealth of experience to the Stags' backline.