Waisake Naholo is targeting another big Super Rugby season after a leg injury that hindered his fledging All Blacks career last year has now fully healed.
Naholo will have his third match of the pre-season when the Highlanders take on the Waratahs in Queenstown on Friday in their final hit-out before the start of the expanded competition.
“Everything has cleared, everything is good,” he said.
“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling confident. I just want to get game time again this year and do really well.”
The explosive Fiji-born winger was one of the Super Rugby stand-outs in 2015, his 13 tries helping to propel the unfancied Highlanders to their maiden title.
His performances also landed him a Test debut against Argentina in Christchurch in July.
He turned in a promising display before limping off in the second half with a fractured leg, beginning a race against time to stay in contention for the World Cup.
After a much-publicised trip back to Fiji for traditional treatment, he made the squad for Britain.
He played in the All Blacks’ last two pool matches, but lost out to fellow Test rookie Nehe Milner-Skudder for the No.14 jersey for the pointy end of the tournament.
Being at the World Cup was a dream for Naholo after he hadn’t expected to make the All Blacks at the start of the year.
But the lack of more game time was also a frustration and is something that is fuelling his desire this season.
“It’s not fun sitting on the sidelines or not being in the 23, but you have to expect these things and do your best when you get an opportunity,” he said.
“Even to make the World Cup squad was beyond my imagination. It just gives you that hunger to want more, to want to be in the All Blacks more.”