Waisake Naholo re-signs with Highlanders, prepares for June Test Series
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 13: Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders barges through CJ Stander of the Lions to score the opening try during the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour match between the Highlanders and the British & Irish Lions at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 13, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

News that Waisake Naholo has re-signed with the Otago Highlanders, is terrific for the Super Rugby franchise. It means fans can enjoy the Fijian-flyer for more years, as the player himself is likely to be a part of the All Blacks again in 2018.

Naholo is known for his astonishing strength on his feet, athleticism and dynamic running. That is for both the Highlanders as well as the New Zealand team. It is those abilities, plus his wide smile that makes Waisake Naholo such an attractive prospect to retain.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said in a media release, “We have been working for some time to confirm our squad for next year and we are delighted that so many of our experienced players have chosen to commit to us again for 2019.

“We appreciate good players will always have options so their commitment to the Highlanders enables us to look toward next season with some certainty.”

Waisake Naholo re-signs with Highlanders

Not only is Waisake Naholo happy to re-commit to the Highlanders, but five other players have also put pen to paper. These include another All Black, as well as promising players which the franchise can invest in.

Players re-signing are: Liam Squire, Rob Thompson, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington and Siate Tokolahi.

Positive news for the Otago region too, in building a strong base of players to carry on the success of 2015 – the sides maiden Super Rugby title. With the likes of Squire, Thompson and Tokolahi, they can support the established players.

Rob Thompson of the Highlanders at Eden Park on April 20, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Hammington has developed under the guidance of Aaron Smith. An energetic finisher, he can work towards looking to nail the starting role, to both compliment and challenge Smith. Thompson is having a standout year, breaking the line often, but also firming the ‘Landers midfield after losing Malakai Fekitoa.

James Lentjes is another who has shown promise, yet injury has also interrupted his time on the park. If Lentjes can gain some continuity of play, then he can also benefit from playing beside Squire, Luke Whitelock and Elliot Dixon.

Head Coach Aaron Mauger was also pleased to be re-signing players, well before next season begins. “Building and maintaining a competitive Super Rugby squad is a challenging process and requires a great deal of planning to get the right balance.

“All the guys we are re-signing now are central to our future and are quality men and players, it’s great to have them on board for 2019.”

All Blacks place a focus-point for Waisake Naholo

While the 18 cap right winger has delighted fans in New Zealand and around the world, the Highlander still has to fight for his place. With the France test series only a number of weeks away, Naholo must still stay focused on his core task. The Highlanders play the Lions on Saturday.

Waisake Naholo of the Highlanders scores a try during the round twelve Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on May 13, 2016 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

Scheduled to be played at Forsyth-Barr Stadium, the setting is also one favourable reason for staying in Dunedin. Even while the winter nights can be cool, the surface of the covered stadium is the best setting for a big winger. He has starred for the team in many great matches – including the stunning draw with the touring British and Irish Lions (see main photo).

He can use the conditions to his advantage – to promote his teams goals in Super Rugby, but also his ambitions in All Black.

If Waisake Naholo, or any of his team mates [including Elliot Dixon – see above], wish to be included in the training squad, then good performances are their best avenue. Naholo will hope that he can see plenty of ball on Saturday, and the next week against the Waratahs.

Then the All Blacks will hold their final ‘preparation camps’ where Waisake Naholo will want his name to appear. If he can show the form he had in 2015, then he and likely team mates of Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane or Jordie Barrett or Damian McKenzie – then the June Internationals will be another exciting chapter, for the re-signed Highlanders player.

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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