The Taranaki development team kick off their 2012 programme today when they meet North Harbour at Piopio.
Despite a number of potential development players being involved in Tenderlink Taranaki's two early Ranfurly Shield defences, coach Michael Carr has still managed to name a strong-looking squad on club form.
"We've taken the mindset that this game is an opportunity for some of the club players who have put their hand up during the club season to come in and we'll see how they go," Carr said.
Carr plans to name on Tuesday his final squad for remaining games against Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and two matches against Wellington.
"This game is really just a starting point for us," he said.
With a number of unions scrapping their development and B teams to save costs, and no competition available to play in, Carr was delighted Taranaki had managed to put together such a worthwhile fixture list.
"We've very lucky our union is in a position where they can do this because there is a lot out there, for one reason or another, who don't want a B team. I think it's going to be a great campaign."
Former long-serving Taranaki captain Andrew Slater is assisting Carr along with two-times championship-winning Tukapa coach Kelvin McDowell. Former Taranaki rugby development manager Michael Collins is also on board as scrum coach.
Four of Taranaki's games will be curtain-raisers to ITM Cup matches.
In selecting his squad for today, Carr said he found the depth at club level encouraging.
"I think it's grown, to be honest, and if you look at the names we've selected, they've all been in good club form. I think we're in really good shape, to be honest."
Kick-off at Piopio is 2pm.
TARANAKI DEVELOPMENT: Jayson Potroz, Josh Kendall, Seta Tamanivula, Ross Allan, Caleb Kahupukoro, Scott Davidson, Warwick Lahmert, Chris Black, Jake Ward, Jono Crossan, Tyrone O'Carroll, Trent Sutton, Willie Ioane, Matt Goodwin (captain), Baxter King. Reserves, Abe Hira, Zane Neill, Ryan Cocker, Richard Sutton, Nick Lawn, Adrian Wyrill, Rick McKenna, Brad Cooper, Whaimotu Craft-Chemis, Telly Hemopo.
- Taranaki Daily News
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