Waisake Naholo using World Cup disappointment to fuel Super Rugby drive

He made it to the Rugby World Cup - but not nearly at full flight.

This year Waisake Naholo wants to rewrite the script, and finish what he started.

What began so promisingly last year ended in disappointment from a personal rather than team perspective for the Highlanders star.

Unwanted by the Blues, Naholo's electric presence on the wing lit up Super Rugby to the point the southern champions became the must watch team. Scoring 13 tries in 18 games launched Naholo into the All Blacks - and on the path to World Cup success.  

From those highs to the low of fracturing his leg on test debut against Argentina in Christchurch, it sure was a rollercoaster of a year for the shy Fijian.  

"When I first did it the doctor told me it would be a while until I got it right and that crushed everything for me," Naholo reflected at the Super Rugby launch on Tuesday. "I wanted to really dominate that wing position for the All Blacks."

Then and there Naholo's World Cup dream appeared over. But the All Blacks selectors retained the faith, so determined were they that he could prove the difference - eventually picking him over Israel Dagg, Cory Jane and Charles Piutau.  

By now everyone knows the "miracle cure" treatment story that saw Naholo become one of the most talked about figures at last year's World Cup. For the first month at the global tournament, the All Blacks couldn't hold a press conference without being peppered about his recovery.

When Naholo's comeback match against Georgia finally arrived it was clear he was not entirely comfortable. The confidence to back himself on the big stage wasn't there, robbing him of the chance to recapture that captivating Super Rugby form but for one fleeting glimpse with his first touch which resulted in a stunning solo try.

Naholo played one more match at the World Cup - the final pool outing against Tonga - with Nehe Milner-Skudder preferred for the knockout games.  

I still had the injury when I went to the World Cup but I really wanted to play. Playing when you are not 100 per cent is difficult but I've got to be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that team. I just wish I could have played more and hadn't broken my leg because things would have been different."

Now he gets the chance to put it right, to reclaim his spot.  

"It has given me that hunger to get out there and perform even better this year - to try and get that black jersey back."   

Fuelled by that drive, Naholo hopes to rekindle his lethal combination with the likes of Aaron Smith and help the Highlanders chase back-to-back glory.

After two 50 minute stints in preseason he can at least put the injury behind him and do what he does best.

"The leg is all good now. I don't strap it or anything. It's 100 per cent - all good to go.

"I'm lucky to have players like that in our team. You work with them at training so come game-time it just clicks. I want to go as well as I did last year and improve on some areas. The All Blacks and Highlanders coaches are always there telling me to work hard.

"There are new teams and it's a new competition and we've still got to fight for it just like everyone else. It's not our title to defend or anything like that."