15 May 2015

Highlanders hopeful of keeping Naholo

8:21 am on 15 May 2015

The Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has his fingers crossed that wing Waisake Naholo will be able to stay with the Super Rugby club.

Waisake Naholo is flying for the Highlanders

Waisake Naholo is flying for the Highlanders Photo: Photosport

Naholo signed a two-year contract with the French club Clermont in February, but since then has become one of the form players of the competition.

A report says Clermont has now come under pressure from New Zealand Rugby to release the Fijian-born flyer from his contract.

Joseph said he's hopeful rather than confident he'll be able to stay in Dunedin.

"He's gone from strength to strength, he's played really well and scored a lot of tries."

The coach said Naholo's decision to sign with Clermont was made prematurely before the Super Rugby season started.

"He's really keen to stay now and we're really keen to keep him, so I'm hoping we'll be successful in the next few weeks."

Naholo will miss the Highlanders match against the Cheetahs on Sunday morning in Bloemfontein with a foot injury.

Two Highlanders players will make their Super Rugby debut in that game in which the team will use six forward, two back split on the reserves bench.

The debutants are Tasman lock Alex Ainley who comes into the side for Tom Franklin, and Hawkes Bay winger Ryan Tongia who replaces the injured Waisake Naholo.

Ainley, returns from a fractured jaw sustained playing club rugby two months ago, while league convert Tongia makes the team after less than a year in the game.

The only other change is at open-side where John Hardie replaces the injured Dan Pryor.

1. Brendon Edmonds

2. Liam Coltman

3. Josh Hohneck

4. Alex Ainley

5. Mark Reddish

6. Gareth Evans

7. John Hardie

8. Nasi Manu (c)

9. Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Patrick Osborne

12. Richard Buckman

13. Malakai Fekitoa

14. Ryan Tongia

15. Ben Smith (c)


16. Ash Dixon

17. Daniel Lienert-Brown

18. Ross Geldenhuys

19. Tom Franklin

20. Elliot Dixon

21. Dan Pryor

22. Fumiaki Tanaka

23. Marty Banks

Injuries: Shane Christie (hamstring) Hayden Parker (shoulder) Joe Wheeler (knee) Kane Hames (knee) Waisake Naholo (foot)