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Record-breaker Naholo thriving in the south

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Thursday, May 10, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Highlanders record try scorer, and re-signed wing Waisake Naholo is expecting a typical approach from the Lions.

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"They have some really good loose forwards and big boys in the mid-field so they'll be physical, but we have some big hitters as well so hopefully we can stop them, he said.

In the longer term Naholo has recommitted his future to the Highlanders and said his reason for re-signing with them was that he loved playing, especially in the covered stadium.

"The Highlanders' environment is pretty cool and I just love living in Dunedin," he said.

He was unaware if there had been tempting offers from overseas as he wasn't told the details.

The possibility of playing in another Rugby World Cup in Japan next year was another factor in his decision.

"I'd like to go to another World Cup and hopefully that works out next year," he said.
In a season in which New Zealand's wing stocks have grown Naholo said he was well aware of the strength in that position. He had been impressed with Ben Lam's play this season with the Hurricanes while Tevita Li, his Highlanders teammate, had also been playing well.

Naholo has become the Highlanders' top try scorer, breaking Jeff Wilson's record of 35 tries. Naholo came into the 2018 season on 31 tries and broke the record against the Brumbies.

When he was preparing to play the Brumbies in Dunedin, at which time he had equalled the record, he met Wilson for the first time when he approached him and told him to keep going hard to break the record.

His success rate had become a point of humour in the side. He said lock Tom Franklin told him the forwards were doing all the work getting him the ball and setting him up for tries and they needed to be given more credit.

Having achieved similar cult figure status that Wilson enjoyed around 20 years ago, Naholo said he enjoyed hearing the Forsyth Barr crowd chanting his name. It was something that lifted him as a player, and in the enclosed stadium it tended to be very loud.