Naholo’s return after breaking a leg in his test debut against Argentina in Christchurch in July is a testament to his hard work – which included a trip home to Fiji in order seek out traditional treatment – and the All Blacks’ faith in a player who took Super Rugby by storm at the Highlanders this year.
There is genuine excitement among the team and coaches about what the powerful speedster can do and a good performance will almost certainly see him retain his spot for the final pool game against Tonga in Newcastle.
Hansen said: “We’ve selected what we think is the best 23 for this test match and reflects where we currently are with our progress in the Rugby World Cup.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Waisake back on the track, he’s been jumping out of his skin at training and I’m sure he can’t wait for game day.”
The match will be centre Conrad Smith’s 90th test – he has started in 85. Lock Sam Whitelock, who will play his 69th test, will become the third most capped All Blacks lock of all time, behind Ian Jones (79) and Ali Williams (77).
All Blacks team to play Georgia at Millennium Stadium, kick-off 8am Saturday:
15. Ben Smith
14. Waisake Naholo
13. Conrad Smith
12. Sonny Bill Williams
11. Julian Savea
10. Dan Carter
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read
7. Richie McCaw (c)
6. Jerome Kaino
5. Sam Whitelock
4. Brodie Retallick
3. Charlie Faumuina
2. Dane Coles
1. Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Owen Franks, Victor Vito, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Malakai Fekitoa