Waisake Naholo could make a shock return in time for the World Cup despite suffering a broken leg last month on his Test debut.
The Highlanders star made his international bow for the All Blacks against Argentina on July 17, but suffered a cracked fibula in the second half which was set to rule him out of the World Cup.
However, his uncle Isei Naiova contacted him from Nadroumai Village in Nadroga in Fiji to tell him to return to the country of his birth to try traditional healing methods to recover from the injury.
“If you want to play in the Rugby World Cup, get on the plane and come here,” his uncle said, according to the Fiji Times.
Naholo reportedly underwent six days of herbal treatment, after which he lost his limp and was able to begin walking and light exercise.
Now Naholo feels he is on course to be fit for the World Cup, although he faces a lot of competition to make the All Black squad.
“Growing up here in the village, this was nothing new. I have seen it happen to people and even rugby players who came here and were healed,” said Naholo.
“I believed in it as well and I think it will help in my recovery too.
“The movement of my leg is much stronger and after the first treatment, I am walking quite well compared to how I was when I got here.
“If I get the chance to be selected again for the World Cup I will be ready but for the time being I will just have to keep on working hard off the field as there are many top class wingers in the team that are there not just to make the numbers. They all mean business.
“I am still new and learning from them and it’s a strange situation to be in because they are like my teachers and, at the same time, my competitors.”
Meanwhile, Naiova is confident that Naholo will be ready in plenty of time for the tournament, claiming the injury was only minor.
“When I first touched his leg I could feel his bones were damaged,” Naiova explained to the Fiji Times.
“I later applied traditional leaves which were removed after four days and as we took the leaves off, I noticed the injury was gone.
“When I first touched his leg he was in pain but after four days he hardly felt any pain.
“This healing has been performed by our forefathers and has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a gift from God.
“That is the reason I asked him to return home from New Zealand and to be treated.
“His injury is just minor unlike others who have come here barely able to walk and are carried by their relatives to be healed.
“I am confident with the treatment we have done, he (Naholo) can feature at the World Cup if selected for the All Blacks in spite of the three month recovery period given by the New Zealand doctors.”