Canterbury seek to continue Mitre 10 Cup dominance
Reigning Premiership champions Canterbury are on the hunt for yet another Mitre 10 Cup triumph against a Tasman outfit awaiting their first this weekend.
Canterbury have been the dominant force in the National Provincial Championship, winning eight of the last nine titles.
The one final in that time in which they did not feature was in 2014, when Saturday's opponents ended their campaign at the last-four stage.
But after that elation came heartbreak for Tasman, who lost the final showdown 36-32 to Taranaki.
They served up some revenge last Sunday, though, beating Taranaki to reach the final in Christchurch.
Coach Leon MacDonald knows his charges are considered underdogs against a club he played for over two spells, but believes they are well prepared for the task ahead, having defied the odds to reach the finale.
"We are clear on how tough the challenge is," he said. "But we have had challenges right throughout the season to get us into this situation and every time we have fronted.
"To me this is no different."
Scott Robertson's Canterbury bounced back from a final-game loss to Counties Manukau by easing past the same side just a week later in the semis.
And they have the recent bragging rights over Tasman, having inflicted one of only two defeats suffered by MacDonald's side this season.
MacDonald's men have loose forward Pete Samu back after he was forced to leave the field injured against Taranaki, while hooker Andrew Makalio has been selected having recovered from a broken hand.
The title holders have made four changes from their semi-final success, with prop Daniel Lienert-Brown replacing Alex Hodgman, and recalls for David McDuling, Rob Thompson and Jordie Barrett.