Updated: Jan 24, 2022
Written by Max Sharp.
Former All Black Waisake Naholo, aged 30, has been added to the Crusaders' wider training squad for cover during the pre-season, having previously turned out for Canterbury in 2021, having returned home to New Zealand after a spell with London Irish in the English Premiership.
Naholo's brother, Kini Naholo, had already been selected for the 38-man full training squad, transferring from the Chiefs for the 2022 Super Rugby season. Having both of these talented brothers, born in Sigatoka, Fiji, will make for a very fun pre-season for the defending champions, who are aiming to win a Super Rugby title for a sixth year in a row.
As Waisake Naholo has not been signed as a full member of the squad, he is unlikely to return to Super Rugby under current circumstances. But rugby, being a contact sport, is always going to result in injuries, so we could indeed see Naholo make his return to Super Rugby as injury cover for George Bridge, Sevu Reece, or indeed his own brother. The Otago University students at "the zoo" of Forsyth Barr Stadium definitely wouldn't mind if Naholo turned out for the Crusaders against the Highlanders at that stadium, for round 2 of the competition.
Naholo's international career began in 2015, when he recovered from a broken leg on debut, to score his first test try in the pool stage, against Georgia. Naholo subsequently went on to represent the All Blacks up until the end of 2018, scoring a total of 16 tries from his 26 tests.
World Rugby's new eligiblity laws mean that Naholo is now immediately eligible to represent Fiji, his nation of birth. If Naholo does indeed return to Super Rugby, it would be a great comeback story for him, this would easily allow him entry into Fiji's international team and we'd all love to see that!