All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo confirms shift overseas following 2019 season

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 9:30PM
All Blacks and Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo. (Photo / Getty)
All Blacks and Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo. (Photo / Getty)

All Blacks and Highlanders winger Waisake Naholo has announced he will leave New Zealand shores to play rugby for English club London Irish after 2019.

The 28-year-old has played 26 Tests for the All Blacks and scored 16 tries after making his debut in 2015 against Argentina in Christchurch.

Deceptively quick and strong, the winger is also the top try scorer for the Highlanders club with 41 to date.

Naholo said he was pleased to pen a deal with London Irish but wants to finish out the season strong with the Highlanders and All Blacks.

"I feel like I owe it to the Highlanders after all that has happened to me since I came down here in 2015 - it really changed my life," he said.

"I'm very appreciative of everything the club has done for me and our fans are the best in the world.

"I also have other goals I'd like to achieve with the All Blacks in 2019, and I know our Highlanders fans will be right behind me all the way."

Naholo is currently nursing a grade two MCL injury which he suffered in early April. At the time, he was said to be sidelined for up to six weeks.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wanted to wish Naholo well with the rest of his career but is looking forward to seeing him in action this year.

"Waisake is a special member of the All Blacks group. He's an exciting player who brings an infectious sense of energy and humour to the team environment," he said.

Pulse Energy Highlanders Chief Executive Roger Clark said he had an immediate impact on the club and its fans following his shift to the south in 2015.

He is an excitement machine and there is nothing better than hearing his name chanted around the stadium as he runs in yet another try," he said.

"His deeds will long be remembered by the Highlander faithful."

Meanwhile, head coach Aaron Mauger said he responded well to the team environment and seemed to get the best out of himself when playing at home.

"Waisake is a unique player who can make special things happen on a rugby field; he is always a threat to the opposition with that blistering pace and strength," he said