Waisake Naholo

Highlanders confirm 'gaps to fill' in roster as Waisake Naholo returns to NZ

Naholo played only a handful of games during a two-year spell in the UK as he battled a persistent knee injury.

However, he is a chance of playing club rugby in Dunedin this weekend and when asked about Naholo, Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark told Stuff on Monday that they “still have gaps to fill for 2022”.

The Highlanders would have to be convinced that Naholo’s knee could stand up to the rigours of Super Rugby, particularly after Liam Squire and Nehe Milner-Skudder both struggled for game time this year.

Motu Matu'u and Waisake Naholo among London Irish departures

Matu'u, 34, joined from Gloucester in the summer of 2018 and played 30 times for the club, helping Irish return to to the Premiership in 2019.

Naholo, 30, played four times in the 2019-20 but missed all of the current season with a serious knee injury.

Tom Homer and Theo Brophy-Clews have already announced their retirement.

Harry Elrington, Nic Groom, Charlton Kerr, Andrei Mahu and Vladimir Podrezov are also leaving.

Waisake Naholo earns huge praise after secret comeback

  The 29-year-old wonder wing, a World Cup winner in 2015, hadn’t played since February 2020 as he battled a knee injury that eventually required surgery.

Having made a sensational debut for unfashionable London Irish in late 2019, there were genuine fears the injury might have ended a stellar career for the former Highlander who played 26 tests for New Zealand, scoring 16 tries.

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

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.

Highlanders start All Black Waisake Naholo against Stormers

A week after Naholo was named to face the Lions and then withdrawn, the All Blacks wing has been handed a start against the Stormers in Cape Town on Sunday (1.05am, NZ time).

Naholo goes straight back into the No 14 jersey for the crucial game against the Stormers, with the Highlanders desperate for a win to keep themselves in a playoffs spot before they have a bye week.

"Waisake has come through the week well," Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger said on Friday.

All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo signs with English club London Irish

The All Blacks wing has endured a frustrating Super Rugby campaign with the Highlanders this year and hasn't played since suffering a knee injury at training last month.

However, he could return to action during the team's upcoming trip to South Africa.

While the length of the contract was not revealed, Naholo was glad to have secured his future with London Irish. But the 28-year-old said he was still 100 per cent focused on his short-term goals with the Highlanders and All Blacks.

All Blacks and Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo suffers knee injury

Naholo, who is currently in a knee brace, has undergone an MRI scan – revealing a grade two MCL injury.

He suffered the injury at Highlanders training on Monday.

The injury could not come at a worse time for the Highlanders who are without All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith for a similar time frame due to an ankle injury.

It is also lousy timing for Naholo as he seeks a resurgence in form ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which starts in Japan in September.

Naholo returns with Havili set for test debut

Naholo has been named on the right wing for Sunday morning's test against Argentina in Buenos Aires replacing Nehe Milner-Skudder.

He hasn't played a rugby championship this year.

The Crusaders David Havili is set to make his test debut having been named in the reserves with Damian McKenzie again named at fullback.

Anton Lienert-Brown will start at centre with Ngani Laumape named in the reserves as back cover.

Naholo sticking with Highlanders

Naholo had been weighing up a move to the Chiefs for 2018, however in a social media video posted after the Highlanders' captain's run in Dunedin, he confirmed his intention to stay in the south for one more year.

RNZI reports the 26-year-old will start on the right wing for the Highlanders in today's quarter-final against the Crusaders.

Naholo's decision is welcome news for the Highlanders, following the confirmation that mid-fielder Malakai Fekitoa will leave at the end of the season to take up a contract in France with Toulon.


Ioane and Naholo dropped for Lions decider

Speedsters Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo are out, and Israel Dagg has been shifted from fullback to the right wing.

They'll meet an unchanged Lions starting line-up and bench - with captain Sam Warburton again leading the 23 who won the second test - as coach Warren Gatland sticks to his winning formula.

 It's the first time since 1992 that the Lions have kept the same starting 23 for consecutive tests.

Jordie Barrett is thrown into a pressure-cooker role at fullback in what will be the 20-year old's first Test start.