Tasman are set to be a big challenge for the Mooloos on Friday night in Hamilton as the ITM Cup gets underway.
The Mooloos named their squad for the first clash of the regular season today,
Four players are set to make their debut for the Mooloos, including the exciting Shaun Stevenson fresh off an impressive club season for Hamilton Old Boys and time in the New Zealand Schools side.
All reports from the Mooloos players are positive, happy times are being had under new coach Sean Botherway.
There is a new culture inside the club at Waikato, a culture that coaches hope will deliver positive results.
New management decisions have seen a relaxed approach taken towards players off the field, and it has already proved popular in pre season.
In the changing rooms a new pool table and dartboard can be found, and according to insiders, some players aren’t exactly keen on leaving Waikato Stadium at the end of the day.
But as good as the vibe has been pre season, the Mooloos face a serious challenge to begin the season.
Beaten finalists last year, Tasman have several talented players including Marty Banks; fresh off kicking a drop goal to help the Highlanders claim their first Super Rugby title.
Banks is a solid goal kicker, missing just one penalty attempt for the Highlanders in 2015, and proved to be able to deliver in the clutch, winning games of two separate occasions with the boot.
Jimmy Cowan is a dangerous prospect at halfback for Tasman and will come off the bench on Friday night. After a mediocre run thus far in his return to rugby in New Zealand, Cowan will have a point to prove all season for the Makos, and it starts on Friday night.
In fact, the Makos have several players in their squad who came out of the Chiefs environment in Super Rugby, players who know how their counterparts in the Mooloos play.
Tasman forwards Quentin MacDonald, Liam Squire, and Tevita Koloamatangi all players for the Chiefs this year.
The Waikato Mooloos squad for the match against Tasman:
- Atu Moli *
- Michael Mayhew *
- Ben Tameifuna (12)
- David Morgan (5)
- Jacob Skeen (7)
- Whetu Douglas [co-captain] (14)
- Murray Iti *
- Josh Tyrell (8)
- Brad Weber [co-captain] (17)
- Damian McKenzie (10)
- Joe Webber (21)
- Jordan Payne (8)
- Anton Lienert-Brown (9)
- Declan O’Donnell (24)
- Shaun Stevenson *
- Hame Faiva (11)
- Loni Uhila (10)
- Tau Koloamatangi *
- James Tucker *
- Zane Kapeli (10)
- Harrison Levien (1)
- Bryn Gatland *
- Johnathan Malo (1)
() = caps for Waikato
* = debut for Waikato