‘One of very few players who on their day is undefendable’: Force close in on former Wallabies wrecking ball
Six years after equalling the Australian record for the most tries in a single Super Rugby season, wrecking ball Taqele Naiyaravoro has made the first steps towards a return to the competition.
The Roar can reveal the giant winger is currently on a train-and-trial contact with the Western Force, with coach Simon Cron keen to add another weapon out wide before the season starts next month.
Naiyaravoro, 32, left Cron and the Waratahs at the end of the 2018 season to join Northampton Saints in the English Premiership.
Before he departed, the two-Test Wallaby left a trail of defenders in his wake as he scored 15 tries throughout the season to help power the Waratahs into their last Super Rugby semi-final.
Had he not left Australian rugby, Naiyaravoro would likely have received another call-up following his destructive season for the Waratahs.
Cron saw first-hand the damage Naiyaravoro could cause on the end of a backline and having lost Manasa Mataele and Toni Pulu, the second-year Super Rugby head coach has the 132-kilogram giant in his sights.
After leaving Japanese side, the Green Rockets, Naiyaravoro will have to prove he can get back to the kind of form that saw him leave the Saints with a strong reputation despite a three-year injury-riddled chapter that saw him score 15 tries across 50 matches.
“Taqele is one of very few players who on their day is undefendable,” Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson said in mid-2022.
“He can change matches and beat teams on his own with his huge physicality, but his skillset and soft skills are often underrated too.
“He’s been unlucky with injuries the last couple of years and – like all of those who are leaving us – we wish him the best for the future.”
While Naiyaravoro will have the next month to prove himself, Cron also has Chase Tiatia and George Poolman as wing options.
Exciting Junior Wallabies prospect Ronan Leahy, 19, could also receive a promotion to the top squad.
Elsewhere, former Leicester Tigers outside back Harry Potter is favoured to start the season at fullback, with Ben Donaldson spending a lot of minutes at fly-half.
Reesjan Pasitoa is in a three-way battle alongside Bayley Kuenzle and Hamish Stewart at inside centre.