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Fijian Leaves Cost Ulster's New Marquee Signing A World Cup Spot

Fijian Leaves Cost Ulster's New Marquee Signing A World Cup Spot
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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Reigning World Cup champions New Zealand named their 31 man squad overnight and sprung several surprises.

The big name casualities among them are the likes of Cory Jane and Israel Dagg with exciting livewire Nehe Milner-Skudder preferred after he dazzled in his first two international tests against Australia.

But the biggest surprise is the inclusion of Fijian-born winger Waisake Naholo ahead of Ulster-bound Charles Piutau. Piutau is being considered amongst New Zealand media as the unluckiest to miss out on selection, especially because Naholo had previously been ruled out of the World Cup due to a broken leg.

Nevertheless, Naholo sought out traditional Fijian medecine in an attempt to cure his fractured fibula, and it looks like it's done enough to convince the All Black medical staff and Steve Hansen for a place in the squad.

Naholo suffered the injury on his very first international appearance, and Hansen was impressive with his determination not to give in, and that looks to have earned his selection ahead of Piutau, who had been one of New Zealand's most impressive performers in his three tests this year. Piutau's impending move and Naholo's strength and X factor decided the final back three spot.

Piutau now faces some time off before joining Ulster next July.

New Zealand's 31 Man Squad For The Rugby World Cup

Hookers: Dane Coles (Hurricanes/Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Blues/Auckland), Codie Taylor (Crusaders/Canterbury).


Props: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders/Canterbury), Charlie Faumuina (Blues/Auckland), Ben Franks (Hurricanes/Hawke's Bay), Owen Franks (Crusaders/Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (Blues/North Harbour).

Locks: Brodie Retallick (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Luke Romano (Crusaders/Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Loose forwards: Sam Cane (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Jerome Kaino (Blues/Auckland), Richie McCaw - captain (Crusaders/Canterbury), Liam Messam (Chiefs/Waikato), Kieran Read (Crusaders/Canterbury), Victor Vito (Hurricanes/Wellington).


Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs/Waikato), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes/Wellington), Aaron Smith (Highlanders/Manawatu).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), Daniel Carter (Crusaders/Canterbury), Colin Slade (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Midfielders: Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders/Auckland), Ma'a Nonu (Hurricanes/Wellington), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes/Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs/Counties Manukau).


Outside backs: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes/Manawatu), Julian Savea (Hurricanes/Wellington), Ben Smith (Highlanders/Otago), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders/Taranaki).

See Also: The Best Pictures As Paul O'Connell Bids Farewell In His Last Home International

Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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