Waikato

Liam Messam set for first appearance for Waikato since 2015 as Mooloos roll out young halves combo

Waikato head coach, Andrew Strawbridge, has made several changes to his matchday 23.

There are two changes to the tight five, Rob Cobb and James Thompson have been elevated from the bench to start at loosehead prop and lock, respectively. Cobb and Thompson inclusion to the starting XV has, Ollie Norris and Hamilton Burr, moving to the reserve for this match.

Waikato captain, Luke Jacobson, switches back to number 8 making room for brother Mitch to start in his preferred position of openside flanker.

Another bonus point win for the Mooloos

The Mooloos have followed up their opening 53-28 win over Wellington with a bonus point 41-19 victory over North Harbour, also in Hamilton.

Harbour were never able to recover after falling 26-nil behind inside half an hour.

The visitors did score the last two tries of the first half to cut the deficit to 29-12 at halftime, but Waikato managed to keep North Harbour at bay in the second 40.

Waikato halfback Xavier Roe scored a first-half double, while Quinn Tupaea, Mitch Jacobson, Damian McKenzie and Valynce Te Whare also dotted down for the Mooloos.

Waikato confirm the signings of two former Super Rugby superstars

Osborne, a Fijian international winger since 2016, made himself available for his country of birth after he was twice named in an All Blacks training squad in 2014 and 2015 but never selected. Osborne brings plenty of experience to the side, having recorded 42 appearances for Canterbury at a provincial level, on top of the 60 Super Rugby caps for the Chiefs (9) and the Highlanders (51). Osborne managed 33 tries over his first-class appearances, indicating his scoring prowess.

Waikato welcome back Uhila

But the giant prop will soon be ripping up turf on French soil after Waikato's Mitre 10 Cup season ends for a two-year deal with France's Top 14 champions, Clermont Auvergne.

Uhila is back in Hamilton for another stint with his beloved Mooloos before heading overseas after spending the last two Super Rugby seasons with the Hurricanes.

The 'Tongan Bear' returns to Waikato's front row in their only change of personnel for Friday's visit of Counties Manukau after their opening round defeat (34-29) in Taranaki.