Beauden Barrett Super Rugby: Mentors back Chiefs recruit Kini Naholo to match heights of All Black brother

Beauden Barrett This is another elegant item.

CHIEFS

Chiefs CEO Michael Collins speaks about Warren Gatland’s coaching team for 2020.

Kini Naholo’s mentors believe the new Chiefs recruit is potentially quicker than elder brother Waisake Naholo and that he possesses the skill set, power and talent to match the heights of the former All Blacks winger. 

The 20-year-old Kini is the youngest of three rugby-playing brothers with ties to Taranaki and he will be following Waisake’s path into Super Rugby, albeit with the Chiefs and not the Highlanders, who the elder Naholo, 28, was with from 2015-19.

Kini was on Tuesday confirmed as one of nine rookies in Warren Gatland’s first Chiefs squad for 2020, so there could still be one Naholo tearing up touchlines in Super Rugby next season after Waisake left for England.

Beauden Barrett Kini Naholo played alongside his older brother for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup last season.

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Kini Naholo played alongside his older brother for Taranaki in the Mitre 10 Cup last season.

The 26-test All Black helped his younger brothers, Meli and Kini, who are wingers like him, with moving to New Zealand from their native Fiji and both would play for Clifton in Taranaki’s club rugby competition, while joining the province’s development programme. 

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Waisake and Kini were in Taranaki’s team together for two Mitre 10 Cup matches in August and they started on opposite wings against Northland, but the latter would suffer a hamstring injury in that game and miss the rest of the season.

Taranaki coach Willie Rickards said Kini was very similar to Waisake, even in body stature, with each of them possessing a powerful running game with the handling skills and strong defence to match, but the youngest Naholo has been troubled with leg injuries in his two seasons with Taranaki, limiting his playing opportunities. 

“We first came across him through Waisake. We’ve got a really big push to have brothers and people with connections to Taranaki Rugby to stay within our community,” Rickards said. 

“He has a very similar body stature but he’s probably a little bit shorter. His attack with the ball, we know what he can do, but defensively he’s very good. He brings great aggression there.”

Beauden Barrett Waisake Naholo finished up with Taranaki before joining London Irish in England.

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Waisake Naholo finished up with Taranaki before joining London Irish in England.

Clifton assistant coach Lane Dombrosk

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