Aporosa Naholo still hadn't got the news, or had it confirmed to his satisfaction. There was a touch of disbelief in his voice.

"Are you saying Waisake is starting in the test match?" the Pastor asks from a Bible school in Suva.

When the answer is yes, that the 24-year-old Waisake Naholo will debut against Argentina, the father of the brilliant All Black wing prospect replies: "Thank God."

The All Blacks can also thank Meli Nauga, Waisake Naholo's uncle who is Aporosa's cousin. Nauga was the catalyst for the rise of Naholo, from the Wanganui Heartland team, through to the national under-20s, sevens, Taranaki, Highlanders and now All Blacks.


Naholo's blistering form, his all round game for the Super Rugby champions, propelled him from a player who had given up on New Zealand rugby and signed for a French club to a major World Cup prospect for the All Blacks.

Fate and family has seen a kid who played with makeshift footballs in the fields of Nadroumai village, to potential world beater in rugby's most famous team.

Meatworker Meli Nauga left Fiji for New Zealand largely for rugby reasons and played a few games on the wing for Wanganui in the mid-1990s.

While there are social media reports that suggest Waisake Naholo, who was also an excellent athlete, went to Wanganui City College on a scholarship, his father says this is not correct.

"It was not part of our plan for him to go to New Zealand but it was his uncle's fault," says Aporosa.

"His uncle has three daughters and he wanted a boy to be in the family, so he just called and asked about Waisake coming over. He said he would take care of everything, his fares, and we said if you can afford to do that, we can send him over.

"And we could help a little bit. We were very excited for Waisake, who was 17 then. We knew he could achieve better things in terms of studies and rugby."

Mr Naholo says that Waisake started playing when many Fijian kids do, at about five, and grew to excel because of his speed and power.

"I think it is okay for me to say he did stand out. He could beat an opponent whenever he liked," he says.

Another member of the family told the Herald from Fiji it was commonplace for kids to use mock footballs.

"The families can't afford to buy the balls. They will even get the brown coconuts and cover them with plastic and paper," he said.

Mr Naholo says: "It's part of daily life for Fijian boys. They use anything available, even clothes, but most of the time empty plastic bottles.

"They use any space available for them to play, even on the roads, muddy patches, whatever, even in the plantations, the ploughed fields."

No academies there, so little wonder the rise of a player like Naholo is greeted with awe.

"I can't find words to explain the feeling I have right now, to witness what he has achieved during his rugby there," says Mr Naholo, a rugby lover.

"Throughout the families we are so proud but the feeling covers the village, the whole country right now.

"I've been to the village and in every place people just look at me and they praise the life of Waisake, the way he excels, the way he plays.

"Even meeting me...they come over, shake my hands, congratulate me wherever I go.

"They say 'your boy is really amazing, playing a wonderful game, his performance through this year is very amazing.'

"If anyone has been selected to represent New Zealand or the All Blacks it is a huge achievement here in Fiji. I would like to acknowledge that God has given him that talent, and he has been utilising it to the utmost lately."

It is a sentiment reflected back in New Zealand where his manager at the Blues in 2013, Bryce Anderson, was "absolutely stoked" for Naholo.

"He is someone who is an absolute pleasure to be around," says Anderson.

"He is typical Fijian I suppose. Very friendly. He was a very hard trainer, never shirked his responsibility, and you can see that on the field.

"You won't find an easier guy to manage. He didn't play many games that year but he never dropped his attitude. It was head down -- he is one of the genuine good guys."

A potential star has surprisingly emerged this year, and Aporosa Naholo watched every Highlanders game on TV.

He spent three months in New Zealand in 2012 and dreams of being at the ground when his son plays test matches. Over to you, Waisake.

Aporosa Naholo says: "Even my school mates here tell me to go over, but it is quite expensive for us in Fiji to come and go like that.

"It's up to Waisake. If he can allow me to come over, I can talk it over with the Bible school management. If not we will watch him at home on TV."