Rugby World Cup: Luckless All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder's World Cup dream over?

2019-06-11 19:28:09

All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder's hopes of playing in his second Rugby World Cup appear to be over following the revelation he needs more surgery on his shoulder.

Milner-Skudder, who was a stand-out performer for the All Blacks when they won the Rugby World Cup in Britain in 2015 but has since had a terrible run with injuries and has not played one minute for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby this year, has confirmed he must have another operation on the troublesome shoulder.

The need to have another operation means the Manawatu flyer, 28, has been robbed of the chance to represent the Hurricanes as they try to win their first title under coach John Plumtree.

Milner-Skudder is contracted to join French club Toulon next year, which means he may not play the sport in New Zealand again.

He may require a minor miracle to make the All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year. In addition to making a swift recovery, he will need to get on to the field for Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup.

He would then have to hope injuries to other candidates, and some hot form in the domestic competition would be enough to secure a place in the squad - or that he is called in as an injury replacement during the event in Japan.

However, the chances of that happening appear to be extremely remote.

"There was plenty to work towards and look forward to on the Rugby to-do list," Milner-Skudder said in a statement he posted on Instagram.

"But unfortunately due to ongoing issues with my shoulder from a prior surgery not going as well as we'd hoped, it was the best decision to go under the knife again to get it sorted."

Milner-Skudder has played just 13 tests for the All Blacks since his breakout season in 2015, with injuries plaguing his career.

His ability to use speed and nifty footwork was rewarded by the national selectors and he scored eight tries in eight tests, being rewarded with the World Rugby Breakout Player of the Year award after the World Cup final in London.

Injuries have meant he has played just five more tests since the tournament.

"I've been through 'a few' injuries, but this has easily been the toughest one – both physically and mentally," he said.

"However, I'm not ready to give up anytime soon, love a good challenge and have so much love and support around me."

The All Blacks selectors will now have to keep monitoring the form of a raft of fit right wings. Waisake Naholo and Ben Smith, both from the Highlanders, are leading candidates to play in the No 14 jersey.

The Hurricanes' Jordie Barrett played there against Italy in Rome late last year and the Crusaders have a clutch of decent wings, with Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor in excellent form.

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