Hansen excited about Naholo return

Date published: September 30 2015

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen is excited about the return of  Waisake Naholo, who will run out against Georgia on Thursday.

The winger scored 13 tries for the Highlanders during a phenomenal Super Rugby season, which earned him a call up to the All Blacks. However, during his debut against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, he fractured his leg.

Nevertheless, the Fiji-born flyer defied the odds, made the team that has travelled to the World Cup and has been declared fit to start on Thursday.

"It's exciting for us to have him back – and he's excited – but there's been a lot of talk about a miracle cure and all that," said Hansen. 

"The fact is he's come back when we expected him to come back. It's a wee bit strong to say he broke his leg as he only really had a stress crack in it, just a small one. 

"The timeline for his return has been great and he's trained magnificently all week. We're excited to have him back and watching him train all week, I'm sure he is too."

Hansen also shed some light on the injury to stalwart Ma'a Nonu, who he doesn't want to risk so early in the tournament.

"He got injured on Sunday in training, just pulled his shoulder back and strained muscles there,” continued Hansen.

"In consultation with the medical crew on Monday, I decided that it's not worth risking him or any of the other three injured players."

However, Hansen is spoiled for choice in the midfield, as rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams will replace Nonu, with the mercurial Malakai Fekitoa brought into the match day 23 on the bench. 

"It's really nice to have that depth and you can't forget Malakai either," added Hansen.  

"To be able to lose a player like Ma'a and to have the opportunity to bring someone like Malakai into the 23 is pretty exciting. All four of our midfielders are world class and we are fortunate to have all four."

New Zealand will face Georgia for the first time in a rugby union international at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday.