The Bunnings National Provincial Championship kicks off this Friday 4th August as New Zealand goes to battle to determine the best province in the nation. For nine weeks the strength and depth of New Zealand rugby will be on full display, as future stars and accomplished veterans represent their regions. As the 16 provinces prepare for their 2023 season, current champions and Ranfurly Shield holders Wellington will be looking to reclaim their title. 



The two-time NPC champions Tasman Makos will be looking to return to their form of 2019-2020 after finishing fifth in 2022. In a squad which features six All Blacks and six Moana Pasifika players, Tasman never fail to name a consistent team that looks dangerous every year. The ever-improving Samiuela Moli returns to the Makos where he’ll welcome Moana Pasifika’s Niu Rookie of the Year Miracle Faiilagi. Picked up by Moana Pasifika as the first player to emerge in Super Rugby Pacific straight from the island of Samoa, Miracle’s journey continues in the South as he gears up to make his Provincial debut. Joining them in the backs are the playmakers, William Havili and Tomasi Alosio. The versatile ball players can cover multiple positions in the backline and offer great depth for the Makos. Also featured in the Tasman squad are two former Moana Pasifika players in the forms of Levi Aumua and Timoci Tavatavanawai.

Moana Man to Watch

Tomasi Alosio is a 45 test Samoa Sevens representative that has over 20 caps at NPC level for Wellington and Tasman. In limited opportunities this year, Alosio has been a consistent hard worker behind the scenes and will relish this NPC season to prove his ability. With the ability to play on either wing or at the back, Alosio’s versatile skillset will be on full display for Tasman this season.


Otago’s lone Moana Pasifika representative is prop Abraham Pole. With 19 appearances for Otago, the Otago Boys’ High School old boy will look to extend his physical dominance from this season with Moana Pasifika into his NPC campaign. Unavailable for selection due to his International Duty with Tonga is Tau Koloamatangi.

Player to Watch

Making his return to Rugby in New Zealand is World Cup winning All Black Waisake Naholo. Coming from Rugby New York in the MLR, Naholo will line up to make his provincial debut for Otago. The electrifying winger will be a sight to see back playing rugby in New Zealand.

Watch the kickoff to the NPC season this Friday 4th August at 5:35pm as the Tasman Makos host Otago.


The Taranaki Bulls are coming off a 6th place finish in 2022, with their lone title coming in 2021. Featuring seven All Blacks headlined by Barrett brothers Beauden, Jordie, and Scott, Taranaki have named a strong squad of locally grown talent. 

Player to Watch

Hooker Ricky Riccitelli has notched up 58 appearances for Taranaki, and 71 appearances for the Hurricanes. But after this latest season with the Blues, the experienced Riccitelli is arguably entering the form of his career.


A strong Counties Manukau squad features five men from Moana Pasifika. With the Steelers last winning in 1979, they’ve named a strong squad in the hopes of claiming the title in 2023. The propping duo of Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Suetena Asomua are set to return to the front row for Counties. With 25 appearances between them, the boulstering duo have both had a strong season for Moana Pasifika this year and will be looking to elevate their game even further in the red, white, and black.

Alex McRobbie and Samuel Slade are named in the second row, alongside flanker Alamanda Motuga. The five men muscling up in the forwards are all experienced members of the Steelers and have all grown their game tremendously this season with Moana Pasifika. 

Moana Man to Watch

Alex McRobbie has been a strong member of both Counties Manukau and Moana Pasifika and has undeservedly flown under the radar. The talented lock forward has a great tenacity to his game and is a perfect fit for any forward pack. Look for McRobbie to shine amongst a strong Counties pack.

Watch the Taranaki Bulls take on the Counties Manukau Steelers this Friday 4th August at 7:35pm.


The Hawke’s Bay Magpies are always strong contenders in the NPC and have named another strong squad to take on 2023. The Magpies squad features six Moana Pasifika players as well as three All Blacks. Making his debut for the Magpies is front rower Isi Tu’ungafasi, who joins fellow prop Sosefo ‘Apikotoa. Set to make his debut, Sam Wye trades in the blue and white hoops of Auckland as he travels down to the Bay. At first five is Hastings Boys High’s Lincoln McClutchie, and rounding out the squad are winging duo Neria Foma’i and Anzelo Tuitavuki. The three backs have been integral members of the Magpies squad for the last few years, and once again have only continued to grow their game this season with Moana Pasifika. 

Moana Man to Watch

One of Moana Pasifika’s most exciting prospects in Sam Wye made his debut this year against the Hurricanes. Working hard behind the scenes all year, Sam couldn’t have found himself in a better situation than with the Magpies where he’ll be under the mentorship of two All Black halfbacks in Brad Weber and Folau Fakatava. With a fast delivery similar to Weber and a quick-thinking running game similar to Fakatava, there’s no doubt that Wye will develop his game immensely under the wing of these two halfs.


North Harbour have named a strong squad for this year’s NPC that features three players from Moana Pasifika. The towering combination of Mahonri Ngakuru and Lotu Inisi have been named for Harbour, and the young forwards are showing great improvements every year. In the backline, veteran Henry Taefu is named once again for North Harbour. The strong midfielder and Samoan international, Taefu brings an imposing physical game on both sides of the ball.

Moana Man to Watch

Lotu Inisi has 13 appearances for North Harbour and is a strong running flanker. This season for Moana Pasifika, Inisi has been a livewire in any position he’s been asked to play and looks threatening every time he runs the ball. Inisi will be a sight to watch this NPC season for Harbour as he looks to announce himself on the provincial scene. 

Watch Hawke’s Bay take on North Harbour this Saturday 5th August at 5:05pm.


The Manuwatu Turbos feature one Moana Pasifika player, and what a player to have in Tima Fainga’anuku. The blockbusting winger has been named as an Outside Centre for the Turbos, an exciting change for fans to see Fainga’anuku running with more space closer to the midfield. The Tongan International has made 17 appearances for Manuawatū and will be playing with extra motivation this season after recently becoming a father. 

Player to Watch

First-Five Brett Cameron is a one cap All Black that has Super Rugby Pacific experience with the Crusaders and more currently the Hurricanes. The clinical playmaker is the ultimate leader on and off the pitch and is one of the best unheralded navigators in the country today.


The defending champs have named an extremely strong squad on paper for 2023. Stacked with Super Rugby and International talent, the Lions have a great combination of experience and youth in their midst. 

Player to Watch

Captaining the New Zealand U20’s team this World Cup, number eight Peter Lakai is already a household name in the rugby world, with 7 appearances for the Hurricanes at just 20 years old. Touted as the long-term successor to Ardie Savea, Lakai is a hard running flanker that has all the tools to be one of the best players in the nation.

Watch the Manuwatū Turbos take on the Wellington Lions this Saturday 5th August at 7:05pm. 


Chris Apoua and Jonah Mau’u headline the Northland Taniwhas as the two members from Moana Pasifika.  The Taniwhas feature many Super Rugby Pacific talents and have assembled a team that has great chemistry and years playing alongside each other.

Moana Man to Watch

Making his debut in Round One this year, Jonah Mau’u has been a revelation for Moana Pasifika. The skillful flanker has been aggressive and dynamic in all his opportunities this year, often the hardest worker on the field. His determination and resilience are great aspects to his game that Mau’u will bring during his time wearing the sky blue.


The ever-present Cantabrians are looking for revenge this 2023 season after finishing as Runner-Ups to Wellington in 2022. In a squad overflowing with talent, Canterbury have the luxury of a prodigious amount of depth in their squad. With over 15 players that have featured in an All Black or All Black XV jersey, there are high expectations for this squad to return to the final again this year. 

Player to Watch

In a Crusaders team that was riddled with injuries this season, many players were given the opportunity to shine on the big stage. One of those players was Chay Fihaki. The skilled winger has experience playing every position of the backline. Starting off as a navigator in the midfield with a strong kicking game, the Crusaders have used Fihaki as a wing/fullback option, taking tough carries and using his speed on the edges. Propped as a fullback for Canterbury this NPC season, look for Fihaki’s monstrous boot to keep teams camped in their half, as well his ability to tuck the ball and challenge the line. 

Watch the Northland Taniwha take on Canterbury this Saturday 5th August at 7:35pm


The team from the Mount’s last title came all the way back in 1976. Regardless, the Steamers have always provided fierce competition, and this year name a much more experienced squad. The lone Moana Pasifika representee to don the blue and yellow stripes is loose forward Penitoa Finau. With three appearances for Bay of Plenty in 2021, Finau has had an impressive season this year for Moana Pasifika after coming back from injury. The hard running Finau joins a forward pack that features the names of Kurt Eklund, Naitoa Ah Kuoi and All Black Captain Sam Cane. 

Players to Watch

The Bay of Plenty Steamers have a stack of New Zealand Sevens stars on their roster. Fehi Fineanganofo and Codemeru Vai are two young stars that have emerged on the Sevens circuit and are no strangers to the 15-man game. At just 20 and 19 years old respectively the future is bright for these two-game breaking outside backs.


The 17-time champions are coming off a 3rd place finish in 2022 and have named another big-name roster. With a wealth of Super Rugby and International experience throughout, the Gulls have a strong mix of experience and youth in their squad. Niko Jones out of Waitemata is Moana Pasifika’s sole representative and returns to the City of Sails after spending time with Old Glory DC in the MLR to round out this season. The elusive flanker has a silky ball playing ability and elusive running game that has only improved season to season, so look out for the versatile flanker to make waves in the blue and white.

Player to Watch

Vaiolini Ekuasi returns to Auckland after spending this Super Rugby Pacific season with the Melbourne Rebels. The imposing flanker at just 21 years old is a physically dominating player on both sides of the ball and is near impossible to stop one on one.

Watch the Bay of Plenty Steamers take on the Auckland Gulls this Sunday 6th August at 2:05pm.


The men from the deep South represent the proud rugby region of Southland. The seven-time Ranfurly Shield holders have been an established team in New Zealand dating back to 1887. Moana Pasifika’s Mike McKee travels south where he’s in line to potentially pick up his 50th appearance for the Stags this season. 

Player to Watch

Paula Latu is coming of a Rookie of the Year season for the Stags in 2022 and is already an integral aspect of the Southland squad. Also, given the title of the Clubs Most Promising Player, the powerhouse Prop spent time with Moana Pasifika’s extended squad this season, and at 26 years old, is just getting started on his professional rugby career.


The Mooloo men’s roster is stacked with X-factor talent, with D’Angelo Leuila making the venture down the tron for Moana Pasifika. The covering utility back is a weapon at any position he takes the field in and will be a perfect fit as he potentially runs out alongside the likes of Josh Ioane, Mosese Dawai and Quinn Tupaea. 

Player to Watch

Waikato’s player to watch is All Black Quinn Tupaea. One of New Zeland’s most promising prospects of the last few years, Tupaea has been out of action for eight and a half months due to a controversial knee injury he suffered against the Wallabies in 2022. The talented second-five will make his highly anticipated return to the playing field for Waikato, and he will be a player the entire country will be backing this NPC season.

Watch the Southland Stags take on Waikato this Sunday 6th August at 4:35pm.

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