Unwanted All Blacks Waisake Naholo and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi in Taranaki XV

Unwanted All Blacks Waisake Naholo and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will start in Taranaki's final pre-season game against Waikato in Otorohanga on Friday afternoon.

If the pair are to have any chance of earning a recall for the All Blacks' title defence at the Rugby World Cup in Japan they will have to produce outstanding performances for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup and also hope injuries strike the national side.

Right wing Naholo and halfback Tahuriorangi were unable to do enough to impress the All Blacks selectors during the Super Rugby season, and as a consequence their chances of being invited to the World Cup plunged.

Neither player was selected in the 39-man squad for the Rugby Championship when it was named last month, and they also missed the cut when that group was reduced to 34 for the two Bledisloe Cup tests against the Wallabies in Perth and Auckland on August 10 and 17.

Naholo, who played at the 2015 World Cup, will join English club London Irish at the end of the year.

The All Blacks selectors elected to pick Crusaders try scoring maestro Sevu Reece to fill the right wing vacancy, as well as naming the versatile Braydon Ennor, George Bridge, Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane to play in the outside backs.

Tahuriorangi was unable to get regular starts at the Chiefs because Brad Weber was in regal form. 

Weber earned a re-call to the All Blacks after four years in the wilderness, and could travel to the Rugby World Cup to provide insurance for incumbents Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.

The Taranaki side is almost at full strength one week out from the start of the competition, which includes a strong loose forward trio of Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Lachlan Boshier and Pita Gus Sowakula – who retain their positions from last week. 

Taranaki are coming off a win against Manawatu in their first pre-season match along with a loss to Auckland in Te Awamutu last weekend.


Taranaki: Brayton Northcott-Hill, Waisake Naholo, Sean Wainui, Regan Verney, Kini Naholo, Jayson Potroz, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Lachlan Boshier, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Mitch Brown (capt), Tupou Vaa'i, Donald Brighouse, Bradley Slater, Reuben O'Neill. Reserves: Scott Mellow, Jared Proffit, Kyle Stewart, Leighton Price, Kaylum Boshier, Warwick Lahmert, Josh Setu, Liam Blyde, Josh Lord, Chris Gawler.