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Super Rugby

World Cup hopes for All Black star hang in the balance following knee injury.

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo’s hopes of making the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year hang in balance after he suffered a training ground knee injury that will see the star miss up to 6 weeks.

Naholo (27) was a member of the All Blacks World Cup winning-squad in 2015, had a scan on Tuesday which revealed “a grade 2 MCL injury”.

“He is currently in a knee brace and will be unavailable for up to 6 weeks while he is rehabilitating,”

Highlanders.

The injury comes at a bad time for Naholo who has struggled for form of late, not replicating the form that has seen him run out for the All Blacks on 26 occasions.

If the diagnosis of 6 weeks out is correct he would return mid-May giving himself just 4 regular season games to prove to the All Blacks selectors he should be in the mix for the Rugby Championship & RWC 2019.

Naholo is not the only injury worry for the All Blacks with Highlanders team mate Liam Squire also out with a knee injury suffered at training last month. Aaron Smith who just yesterday confirmed his future post RWC is also out for approximately 6 weeks with an ankle sprain while Sam Cane is recovering from a broken neck he sustained last year in the Rugby Championship.

Highlanders who have lost 3 from 4 of their last games will miss Naholo’s magic on the wing and all New Zealand fans will be hoping the Fijian born wing will be able to get back to form in time for Japan 2019.

Rugby Transfer Rumours

Highlanders Sign All Blacks Youngster

The Highlanders have confirmed their first signing for the 2020 Super Rugby season

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(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have announced their first signing ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season with All Blacks Sevens and New Zealand U20 star Scott Gregory.

The 20-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the franchise and is so far only one of two confirmed outside backs in the squad for next season along with Josh McKay.

He has been a part of the New Zealand U20 World Championship squad for the past two years and played a vital role in the nations Sevens team during the 2018/19 World Series.

Having debuted for in the Mitre 10 Cup in 2018 for Northland and has become known for his speed and will be a welcome addition to the Highlanders following the mass exodus of players at the end of last season.

Come the end of the season the franchise confirmed that a total of 12 players would be departing them including All Blacks Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock and Jackson Hemopo.

As well as them there is a huge loss of Super Rugby experience in Matt Faddes who is set to join Ulster for the 2019/20 season.

Most of the players are heading overseas in order to receive improved contracts in what is becoming an increasing problem for Southern Hemisphere nations.

The Highlanders finished the 2019 season with a quarter-final loss to eventual winners the Crusaders and with all the departures it is expected that Gregory will be the first of many new faces through the door.

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International

Wallabies Star Signs New Contract

The Wallabies have secured the services of one of their key men until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup

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(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou has signed a new four-year contract with both Rugby Australia and Queensland Rugby Union.

Tupou nicknamed the ‘Tongan Thor’ has shone for both the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds in recent times and his new contract ensures that he will remain in the country until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The tight-head prop is delighted to have been offered the opportunity to continue on both fronts and believes the best is yet to come from him.

“I’m very excited to sign for the next few years. Queensland and Australia offered me the first opportunity out of school and I feel I have more to do to repay that faith. I only started playing consistently in the last two or three years, so I think there’s still more for me to offer in Australia for the Reds and Wallabies,” he said.

Tupou is almost certain to head to Japan when the World Cup squad is announced and is hoping to earn his right to wear the jersey long after the tournament, while he is also excited by the young talent that is coming through the Queensland system.

“We have a really good young group in Queensland who have been working hard the last few years and I know we’re heading in the right direction. I love playing for Australia. Obviously growing up as a kid, watching them, and now being able to pull on the jersey is an honour. To know that I will be here for the next four years is exciting because it means I may have the opportunity to pull on the jersey again if I continue to work hard,” he added.

Having made his debut for the Aussies in 2017 Tupou has gone on to impress at both international and domestic level, winning the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2018.

It comes as a boost to the Wallabies who have been losing talent overseas recently, but after Saturday’s win over the All Blacks things could be on the up if more follow Tupou’s lead.  

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Super Rugby

Waratahs Hooker Extends Stay

The Waratahs have been boosted ahead of next year’s Super Rugby campaign with one of their most experienced players committing to the franchise’s cause

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(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick has signed with the Aussie side for the 2020 Super Rugby campaign in what is another boost. 

It will be Fitzpatrick’s ninth campaign with the NSW, and he admits he is just delighted to continue playing for the team he loves.

“Playing for the Waratahs is what I truly love doing, so any opportunity to continuing to do what you love and are passionate about is something I’m grateful for. The unknown is exciting. A new-look squad under a new coach can bring endless possibilities and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Waratahs,” he said.

The 30-year-old left for three seasons with Lyon in 2013 and was part of the squad that earned promotion. He returned to the Waratahs in 2016 signing a two-year deal and has earned the extension due to his strong showings throughout this year’s campaign.

He will not play any National Rugby Championship matches however after agreeing to take a short-term contract overseas between now and the 2020 Super Rugby pre-season.

Fitzpatrick is the second experienced Waratah to extend their stay with the franchise this week after Wallaby Kurtley Beale signed on for next season too.

Both will be welcome re-signings with many players heading abroad for more lucrative deals including star names such as Bernard Foley and Sekope Kepu who are both leaving the franchise this year.

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