A relatively inexperienced Auckland squad has been named to challenge for this year's national provincial title.
Coach Mark Anscombe said despite their inexperience, he felt the squad had the potential to perform well in the Air New Zealand Cup. "We've named several guys who have never played for Auckland before and it's no secret that there's not a lot of experience out wide but it's a great opportunity for some guys to step up and I'm confident they will," said Anscombe.
Kurtis Haiu is the most capped Auckland player on 49 caps, ahead of Taniela Moa, with 47 caps and Jay Williams, with 30 caps. The captain is to be named later this week. Auckland's final pre-season game is against North Harbour on Thursday.
North Harbour coach Craig Dowd and assistant Jeff Wilson say their 26-man squad for upcoming campaign is a balance of youth and experience.
"We have a number of young players in our squad who have come through our development program and will make their debuts in the Air New Zealand Cup this year," Dowd said."This is balanced by the availability of 2008 All Blacks Anthony Tuitavake, Rudi Wulf and Anthony Boric who will bring experience to the group.
"The Cup is now very much a development competition and our approach has been focused around promoting our local players."
Auckland: Tevita Mailau, Pauliasi Manu, Charlie Faumuina, Paea Fa'anunu, Francis Smith, Tom McCartney, Kurtis Haiu, Jay Williams, Andrew Van der Heijden, Dean Budd, Chris Lowrey, Peter Saili, Onosa'i Auva'a, Hamish Paterson, Taniela Moa, Grayson Hart, Ash Moeke, Daniel Bowden, Benson Stanley, Winston Stanley, Jamie Helleur, Teddy Stanaway, Thomas Timani, Dave Thomas, Atieli Pakalani, Paul Williams, Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino, John Afoa, Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko, Ali Williams (injured).
North Harbour: James Afoa, Mike Reid, Ben Afeaki, James Parsons, Michael Mayhew, Anthony Boric, Filo Paulo, James King, Chris Smith, Malakai Ravulo, Tom Chamberlain, Richard Mayhew, Robbie Colhoun, Vili Ma'afu, Chris Smylie, Matt France, Mike Harris, Ben Botica, Andrew Mailei, Anthony Tuitavake, George Pisi, Nafi Tuitavake, Josh York, Rudi Wulf, Jack McPhee, Ken Pisi