Sportal.co.nz 08.Aug.2012Getty Images
Northland proved sound in winning at home last year but are looking to provide more winning performances across the board.
"We're quietly confident we've put together a team that is going to be competitive. We're thought of as strugglers in the competition but I think Manawatu proved last year that if you get the right attitude and get out there and apply yourself over the course of the campaign you can imprint your style on the competition and that's obviously what we want to do," he said.
Ferris said both he and his assistant-coach Derren Whitcombe had taken lessons in confidence and conviction from their first season with the side.
"We knew that we had a hell of a lot to learn, we just looked back at what was working for us and what wasn't and obviously changed the areas that weren't working for us and so far, so good, things have been much more positive this year," he said.
Clarity of instruction in relation to what they were asking of players was the key point. It was important the players enjoyed the same clarity as the coaches on what they were asking.
Another frustration last year was having so many players arrive back late from the Blues campaign and that had affected what the coaches were trying to achieve.
"We've made sure that everyone is on the same page before we progress with our lessons and I guess that was the biggest key in trusting our own instincts over what was best for the team rather than allowing the change to happen from senior players," he said.
Ferris said he was keen to see livewire back Rene Ranger get the enjoyment back into his rugby rather than looking at it as a job.
"If he does that then I think we will see the best out of him. If he's too worried about thinking of the future then he's not in the here and now and that's what we've asked him to do."
Two Southland players are included in the side, hooker David Hall and loose forward Hale T Pole. They had been sought to join the side to provide leadership.
Ash Moeke was also back. "He's doing all the right things and we're expecting him to have a big season."
He was comfortable with the way the side was shaping in the loose forwards. Dan Pryor had time with the Blues wider training squad while Cam Goodhue was available again to work with T Pole.
"All of those guys don't shirk their work load and that's all we want from them.
"I guess it's about the platform the tight five provide and we're working hard in that area as well," he said.
Bryce Williams is back with the side for two seasons after a stint in Europe and would be crucial to the tight five where emerging prospect Jack Whetton would be looking to make an impact.
Northland open their season against Otago in Dunedin on August 25.