Waikato to stage NPC final in Hamilton with move to alert level two

With the government announcing parts of the Waikato region will move down to alert level 2 from midnight Tuesday, New Zealand Rugby have confirmed Hamilton will host the decider (7.05pm kickoff).

The Waikato team relocated to Bay of Plenty earlier in the season due to Covid-19 restrictions in the Waikato region and will return to Hamilton ahead of the final.

The game will operate under Ministry of Health alert level 2 guidelines with limited bubbles allocated by the Waikato Rugby Union.

The largest potato in the world... maybe

Donna and Colin Craig-Brown of Ngāhinapōuri have named their 7.9-kilogram potato 'Doug'.

The Craig-Browns had no intention of growing a large potato, Colin tells Jesse Mulligan. Doug was just "one of nature's pleasant surprises".

"I had no idea he was growing there and I don't know how long he was there because I was walking over top of him all last cucumber season.

"It's just one of life's happy little moments, you know? Mother Nature has just bestowed this glory upon us."

102 Covid-19 community cases in NZ today

The Ministry of Health said 94 of the cases were in Auckland and eight in Waikato. Thirty of the cases are household contacts.

Forty of the new cases remain unlinked and there are 199 unlinked cases in the past 14 days.

There were 60 new community cases yesterday.

All of the Waikato cases were in the Te Awamutu area, the ministry said. Seven had already been linked to known cases.

One of the Waikato cases travelled to Hawke's Bay last Friday, but returned to Te Awamutu before testing positive.

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.