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Waisake Naholo back from broken leg to make World Cup debut against Georgia

Published 30/09/2015

Waisake Naholo will make his World Cup debut on Friday
Waisake Naholo will make his World Cup debut on Friday

Wing Waisake Naholo will make a World Cup debut for New Zealand on Friday - 10 weeks after breaking his leg.

Naholo suffered a hairline fracture during the Rugby Championship game against Argentina in mid-July, and his recovery process included a trip to Fiji, where his uncle adopted traditional healing methods such as putting leaves on Naholo's leg.

"It is exciting for us to have him back," New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said, after naming a team to face Pool C opponents Georgia that shows 10 changes from the side that accounted for Namibia last week.

"There has been a lot of talk about a miracle cure, but he has come back when we expected him to.

"I think it's a wee bit strong to say he broke his leg. He only really had a small stress crack in it.

"To have a guy who probably was the player of the Super Rugby season gives us genuine pace and ability to beat people. It's exciting to have someone like that in your group.

"To have him out on the track after the disappointment of thinking we weren't going to be able to select him, to get a second chance is wonderful.

"He has worked extremely hard, as have the medical staff with him, to get him to where we have. We are extremely confident he is ready to play."

The Millennium Stadium meeting with Georgia should see New Zealand tighten their grip on Pool C.

"Georgia aren't a team who we know a lot about," Hansen added. "It's hard to get footage from afar, but we have enough of it.

"They are big, physical, strong men, and they will try to play a game to dominate the set-piece and slow it down a bit."

New Zealand team (versus Georgia): B Smith; W Naholo, C Smith, S B Williams, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; W Crockett, D Coles, C Faumuina, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Replacements: K Mealamu, T Woodcock, O Franks, V Vito, S Cane, T Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, M Fekitoa.

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