After recovering from a knee complaint, Yarrows Taranaki Bulls wing Waisake Naholo returns to the starting line-up for the first home game of the season against Northland on Sunday at Yarrow Stadium.

Naholo missed last weekend's match against Manawatu in trying conditions, after injuring his knee in the opening round against Counties Manukau.

Bulls coach Willie Rickards said Naholo had trained well all week and was ready to re-join the starting XV.

"We are looking forward to having Waisake back in the team for this weekend. He brings incredible experience and speed to our backline."


Naholo's selection is one of three starting changes that Rickards has made to the side.

Lock Tupou Vaa'i rejoins the run-on XV and swaps with Jesse Parete, who drops to the bench and Kaylum Boshier replaces Heiden Bedwell-Curtis at the side of the scrum. Bedwell-Curtis has undergone cheekbone surgery and will return in two-three weeks' time.

Jackson Ormond drops back to the bench due to Naholo's return and Tom Florence has recovered from an ankle injury and named in the playing 23.

Halfback Lisati Milo-Harris could play his debut match from the reserves, if required.

Rickards said that the side has been on the road for the last month and is looking forward to playing in front of their home fans at Yarrow Stadium.

Hooker Ricky Riccitelli will earn his Taranaki Rugby blazer for notching up 20 matches and Ormond will make his 60th appearance for the province.

Taranaki will host Northland for the first time since 2010, when the Taniwha won 26-10.

Northland are currently in fifth position on the championship standings, while Taranaki are one point behind Bay of Plenty in second place.


The CMK Taranaki Under 19s will host Bay of Plenty Under 19s in the curtain raiser kicking off at 11:35am.

The match is a Chiefs regional seeding game as both sides vie for seeding positions at the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament in September.

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls to play Northland on Sunday, 25 August, 2.05pm

Reuben O'Neill (32 caps)
Ricky Riccitelli (19)
Donald Brighouse (2)
Tupou Vaa'i (5)
Mitchell Brown (c) (29)
Kaylum Boshier (3)
Lachlan Boshier (33)
Pita-Gus Sowakula (17)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (35)
Daniel Waite (9)
Kini Naholo (4)
Teihorangi Walden (12)
Sean Wainui (37)
Waisake Naholo (36)
Jayson Potroz (5)

Scott Mellow (8)
Chris Gawler (13)
Kyle Stewart (7)
Jesse Parete (11)
Tom Florence (10)
Lisati Milo-Harris*
Regan Verney (3)
Jackson Ormond (59)
*denotes debut

Unavailable for selection: Bradley Slater (concussion) and Stephen Perofeta (pectoral)

Unavailable for the season: Manasa Mataele (knee) and Fin Hoeata (shoulder).

Stat Chat:
Played: 49, 1924-2018.
Taranaki wins: 30, Northland wins: 18, Draws: 1.
Last match: Northland 18 Taranaki 17 in Whangarei 2.09.2018 (M10C)
Last Taranaki win: Taranaki 50 Northland 7 in Whangarei 6.09.2015 (ITMC)
Highest score Taranaki: 62 in Whangarei 4.09.2004 (NPC)
Highest score Northland: 40 in Whangarei 15.08.1987 (NPC)
Biggest differential: 51 by Taranaki (62-11) in Whangarei 4.09.2004 (NPC)
Week 1: Counties Manukau w 34-29
Week 2: Manawatu w 13-10