By Patrick McKendry
All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo will be assessed over the next 24 hours to assess whether he will be available to play Tonga in Newcastle on Saturday morning.
Naholo, who scored a stunning try with his first touch of the ball in the second minute of the match against Georgia in Cardiff, bruised a leg in the match. He limped from the field after 50 minutes, but was always going to be replaced at that time following his return from a fractured fibula.
Coach Steve Hansen made light of the injury the day after, saying Naholo had become used to limping, but clearly it is more serious than first thought.
Naholo was one of three All Blacks to take a limited part in training today. Prop Charlie Faumuina has a slight hamstring strain and midfielder Sonny Bill Williams, who left the Millennium Stadium pitch for a head injury assessment – which he passed – has been feeling the effects of the flu.
Assistant coach Ian Foster said none of the players’ issues were serious. Naholo, clearly, is a key player for the All Blacks with his finishing ability, and if he doesn’t play against Tonga then Nehe Milner-Skudder will return to the No14 jersey.
“We’d like to see Waisake with a bit more game time,” Foster said. “It was pretty hard to assess his last game wasn’t it? He started with a hiss and a roar and did something pretty spectacular which we know he can do and then he looked a bit rusty around the park in some of his roles. But that comes when you’re out for some time.”