Almanack recognises Naholo

Waisake Naholo celebrates his try during The Highlanders against the 2017 British and Irish Lions...
Waisake Naholo celebrates his try during The Highlanders against the 2017 British and Irish Lions. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Waisake Naholo has been named one of the players of the year in this year's New Zealand Rugby Almanack.

The almanack, a vital bible for the game, names five players of the 2017 season and Naholo is one of them along with Rieko Ioane, Sam Cane, Codie Taylor and Portia Woodman.

His try-scoring ability is lauded by the publication.

In the 2017 season, he scored 21 tries in 22 matches and, in the past four seasons, he has scored 59 tries in 75 first-class matches.

Naholo is named in the almanack's New Zealand XV alongside Ioane.

Other Highlanders included in the New Zealand XV are fullback Ben Smith, halfback Aaron Smith and blindside flanker Liam Squire.

The almanack, which is in its 82nd year, also names a Super Rugby XV, which comprises just two Highlanders in its starting line-up.

Naholo is joined by No8 Luke Whitelock although hooker Liam Coltman and Aaron Smith are in the reserves.

Damian McKenzie is named at fullback while TJ Perenara is preferred at halfback.

The almanack as usual summarised the seasons of all 26 unions.

It said Otago had a disappointing season, winning four of 11 games.

It played poorly in the semifinal against Bay of Plenty and, although it gained five bonus points from five close losses, that just hid the fact it lost all five tight games.

Youngsters Jona Nareki and Vilimoni Koroi are praised for their debut seasons for Otago while flanker Dillon Hunt and midfielder Tei Walden are also lauded.

In a short section summing up the Highlanders' season, the pulications said the side bounced back well after losing its first two games. It lost only two more games and gained the fourth-most championship points attained. If it had been another year that could have led to a home playoff game but the side had to settle for seventh place.

North Otago is praised for its play and its efforts were said to be better than its record suggested.

The almanack's editorial is always lively and this year it suggests red cards are having a big impact on games. It questioned whether the British and Irish Lions would have drawn the series had the All Blacks been able to have 15 men for the entire game in the second test in Wellington.

It said the contest is diminished when a player is red carded.

It also lamented the loss of sport reporters from regional newspapers and how they would be badly missed.

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