The Waisake Naholo wing of the All Blacks and Highlanders has been declared offside for up to six weeks after suffering a knee injury in training on Monday. Naholo underwent an MRI that revealed a second-year injury to MCL and left the 27-year-old in a knee brace. Fans have bought their Rugby World Cup Tickets and hoping for their favorite players to perform well in the tournament.
The news could not come at a worse time for troubled Highlanders, who are already without half-star Aaron Smith (ankle) and lead striker Liam Squire (knee).
Smith who has signed a two-year contract extension with New Zealand rugby earlier this week – should initially stay up to six weeks. But told RugbyPass yesterday that he plans to return to the field in a month.
The Highlanders have underperformed this season, having only two wins in six games, and have not had the upper hand since their 36-3 win against the Reds in February.
Their series of three consecutive defeats and one canceled match – where four points of the competition were shared between them and the Crusaders – left the 2015 Super Rugby champions in 10th place with only 13 points.
The injury is also premature for Naholo himself, as 26 test drivers try to make their way to the All Blacks team for the World Cup in Japan later this year.
The usual winger, who is expected to join the RFU Championship’s Irish squad at the end of this year, was abandoned by national coaches late last year, although he has made eight attempts in the last year 2018.
Since returning to Super Rugby with the Highlanders, the franchise’s top scorer has struggled to find his bearings, not giving his team the impact with which he built his reputation.
Although head coach Steve Hansen’s selection plans are still valid, a six-week break would leave Naholo more than four regular-season games in Super Rugby to prove his worth.
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