JP Koen set to battle Super Rugby team-mate

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
JP Koen
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
MATE VS MATE: Southland prop JP Koen is expecting to go head-to-head against Highlanders team-mate Kane Hames when the Stags open their NPC season against Bay of Plenty.

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Kane Hames is set to go head-to-head with his Highlanders team-mate J P Koen in what could be an intriguing battle in the National Provincial Championship matchup between Southland and Bay of Plenty in Invercargill tomorrow night.

Bay of Plenty named their team yesterday for their competition opener and, as expected, Hames was named to start on the loosehead side of the scrum.

Hames was one of the big improvers for the Highlanders this season, after Jamie Joseph plucked the relatively unknown player out of provincial rugby.

His impressive form had All Blacks selectors take a close look at him.

Southland's Koen was a late callup to the Highlanders this year and spent time training and playing alongside Hames.

Southland coach Brad Mooar has opted to keep his cards close to his chest by not naming his team until today, however, Koen is the frontrunner to slot in on the tighthead of the scrum and square-off against Hames.

Meanwhile, the NPC season kicks off with Taranaki facing Counties Manukau in New Plymouth tonight.

THE TEAM

Bay of Plenty team to play Southland: Byron McGuigan, Tino Nemani, Siaosi Iongi, Doug Edwards, Kimami Sitauti, Dan Hollinshead, Samisoni Fisilau, Carl Axtens, Dave Davies-Whitecliff, Johan Bardoul, Tim Bond, Culum Retallick, Pingi Tala'pitaga, Joe Royal, Kane Hames. Reserves; Mike Kainga, Josh Sole, Joe Tupe, Hamish Gosling, Vyron Smith, Teddy Stanaway, Te Aihe Toma

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