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Miracle cure sees Naholo named in NZ World Cup squad

Miracle cure sees winger Waisake Naholo named in New Zealand World Cup squad

Miracle cure sees Naholo named in NZ World Cup squad

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Injured winger Waisake Naholo was named Sunday in New Zealand's squad to defend the Rugby World Cup as the selectors trusted a Fijian folk healer to repair Naholo's broken leg in time for the tournament's pool rounds.

Naholo suffered a cracked tibia in his debut test against Argentina on July 16 and was thought to be sidelined for three months, ruling him out of action until the Cup's late playoff rounds.

His expected unavailability further complicated the selection of the outside backs which was one of the most contentious elements of the New Zealand squad announced Sunday.

But Naholo traveled to his native Fiji to receive treatment from a traditional healer and the All Blacks' say medical tests show he has made a recovery and is now likely to be available at least for the All Blacks' third pool match against Georgia on Oct. 3.

Naholo, who has played only 50 minutes of test rugby, and 24-year-old Nehe Milner-Skudder who, after two tests, is already seen as a rising star have captured two of the outside backs spots along with automatic selections Ben Smith and Julian Savea.

Their inclusion comes at the expense of veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane, both of whom were key members of New Zealand's 2011 Cup-winning squad but have been prevented by injuries from fully pressing selection claims.

The other troublesome areas of the squad, which includes 17 forwards and 14 backs, were at flyhalf -- where one of four strong claimants had to miss out -- and in the specialist roles of hooker and scrumhalf.

Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade are the flyhalves with the 33-year-old Carter -- chosen for his fourth World Cup -- given the chance to set the seal on his 12-year All Blacks career. He will quit New Zealand rugby to play in France when the World Cup ends.

Carter was part of the squad which won the last World Cup in New Zealand but suffered a serious groin injury prior to the All Blacks' final pool match against Canada and didn't play again at the tournament.

Slade, who was also injured during the 2011 Cup, won the third flyhalf spot ahead of Lima Sopoaga -- another player who made his test debut this year and who was the form flyhalf in New Zealand this season, leading the Highlanders to their first Super Rugby title.

Sopoaga joins a wide group of players on standby to join the All Blacks in Britain if injuries occur.

The All Blacks selectors named three scrumhalves and three hookers. Tawera Kerr-Barlow has been chosen to back-up Aaron Smith and T.J. Perenara at scrumhalf, though he has been injured for most of the past year.

The young Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor will perform the same role behind Dane Coles and 126-test veteran Keven Mealamu who is one of at least six senior All Blacks who will quit international rugby when the tournament ends.

Charlie Faumuina has been named among four props, though he hasn't played a test this season while recovering from a neck injury. The selectors have chosen only three specialist locks -- Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano while relying on coverage from backrowers Victor Vito and Liam Messam.

Vito and Messam are among six loose forwards along with Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane and captain Richie McCaw -- who became the world's most-capped rugby player when he made his 142nd test appearance in New Zealand's most-recent match against Australia.

New Zealand is drawn with Argentina, Tonga, Namibia and Georgia in Pool C and plays its opening match against Argentina on Sept. 21.


New Zealand squad:

Forwards: Tony Woodcock, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Codie Taylor, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw (captain), Sam Cane, Kieran Read, Victor Vito.

Backs: Aaron Smith, T.J. Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.

Updated : 2021-09-26 03:17 GMT+08:00