All Black wing Waisake Naholo will swap the Highlanders for London Irish when his contractual obligations in New Zealand have been completed.
Naholo, who has scored 16 tries in 26 Test appearances, was part of New Zealand’s victorious Rugby World Cup campaign in 2015 and will hope to assist Steve Hansen’s side in their defence of the title in Japan this year.
The 28-year-old also won the Super Rugby title with the Highlanders in 2015 and is the franchise’s all-time leading try scorer with 41.
Naholo follows Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Sekope Kepu, Allan Dell, Sean O’Brien and Paddy Jackson in joining the Exiles, who secured their return to the Premiership by winning the Championship this season.
“Following a great career with the All Blacks, Highlanders and Taranaki I am excited by the challenge of joining London Irish,” Naholo said in a statement via London Irish’s website.
“London Irish is a team on the up and has an exciting future. There is plenty of ambition, a world-class training facility, a good group of coaches and players and some exciting signings coming in. The supporters have a great reputation as well and I’m looking forward to it.”
— London Irish (@LiRFC) May 8, 2019
In a Highlanders release, he added: “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of playing in the UK but I’m still very much focused on the present and want to work really hard with the Highlanders to ensure we finish our season on a high.
“I feel like I owe it to the Highlanders after all that has happened to me since I came down here in 2015 – it really changed my life. I’m very appreciative of everything the club has done for me and our fans are the best in the world.
“I also have other goals I’d like to achieve with the All Blacks in 2019, and I know our Highlanders fans will be right behind me all the way.”
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