Taniwha looking to breathe fire into Championship

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Hooker Matt Moulds, who has had another season with the Blues in Super Rugby said: "Everyone's pretty pumped for it. We've got a fair bit of experience in the team now which is something we've been building over a few years and hopefully that will help us at the start of the season and we can progress forward pretty well."

Bay of Plenty in Whangarei is first up for the side and then they face Auckland before travelling to Southland.

"We've got a pretty handy start, we'll look to start well," he said.

"What we've been building is self-confidence in our own abilities and that is something that has let us down at stages when we should have put games away and we hadn't quite been able to. It's just being clinical towards the back end of games and I think you'll see that with a bit more experience that we have and more game awareness."

Experience at first five-eighths would also be available through Dan Hawkins and Peter Breen while outside them there was Crusaders Super Rugby centre Jack Goodhue back playing on his home turf while Rene Ranger was also back.

Add to them young players like Solomon Alaimalo and Matt Wright and there was some welcome sharpness on call.

Moulds had plenty of exposure to Super Rugby with the Blues playing the first 10 games but a knee injury denied him the chance of playing against the British & Irish Lions.

"I've been loving it there and I'm looking forward to bringing some learnings from the Blues of what works and what doesn't and adding to the culture in the Northland Taniwha team.

"Derryn's looking sharp, he's running a tight ship. A few of us Blues boys were back with the camp last week and it was almost a seamless transition really and they've got everything pretty much under control," he said.

Moulds acknowledges the obvious benefits for him in having Witcombe, a former hooker, coaching the side.

"He's very good technically, he understands the game well and he's got a real good scrum background, and lineout background, and the aggression and attitude that a forward pack needs to have, he drives, which is mint. It's good," he said.

"The best part about him is that he keeps the boys on edge and being able to create edge is crucial because when we've got a team like we have got, luckily with the depth, everyone is fighting for positions so standards are high at training and attitudes are high so it has been good," he said.