September 16, 2021
Fiji-born and former All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo will start for Canterbury against Waikato as the Bunnings NPC resumes tomorrow.
Naholo will be a welcome sight in his side's starting XV after making his Canterbury debut off the bench when they beat Manawatu 25-22 in their last match, before New Zealand went into COVID-19 lockdown.
After a stint in England with London Irish, the 30-year-old is back in New Zealand and Canterbury coach Mark Brown is confident he can recapture the form that made him a fan favourite with both the Highlanders and Taranaki.
"He's a real professional, you probably heard that coming back from the UK.”
"Everything he's done here, he's done to the letter of the law. It's exciting to have him in the team.”
"[He] adds a dimension and contributes off the field as well. He'll do a job for us there no doubt,” he told Newshub.
Alongside Naholo, Aaron Smith and stand-in captain Sam Whitelock will be fresh looks to start also.
Whitelock, 32, didn't travel with the All Blacks to Australia for this year's Rugby Championship, as he and his partner awaited the birth of their third child.
The All Blacks stand-in captain was supposed to depart for Australia last weekend, but a delayed flight to Australia saw the pin pulled, with NZ Rugby not confident Whitelock would have enough time to prepare to face South Africa on October 2.
As a result, Whitelock will return to Canterbury next week to train at the very least, hoping to preserve his fitness, before potentially joining the All Blacks on their northern hemisphere tour.
Whitelock's arrival is welcomed by Canterbury captain Reed Prinsep, as the red-and-blacks aim for a 15th national title.
By Romeka Romena