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World Cup-winning All Blacks wing Milner-Skudder signs for Highlanders

The 29-year-old’s move to Toulon fell through due to a shoulder injury.

NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL Nehe Milner-Skudder has signed with the Highlanders on a two-year contract after his deal to join Toulon in France last year fell through due to a shoulder injury.

Still rehabbing that shoulder issue, 29-year-old Milner-Skudder has instead joined the Highlanders ahead of the return of Super Rugby in New Zealand next month.

nehe-milner-skudder-runs-in-a-try Milner-Skudder was a sensation at the 2015 World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Milner-Skudder burst onto the scene with the All Blacks in 2015, scoring two tries on his debut against the Wallabies, and was a key man as Steve Hansen’s side won the World Cup that year.

The 5ft 10ins back three star scored a try in the final and was later named the World Rugby breakthrough player of the year. Milner-Skudder’s current international record stands at 12 tries in 13 games.

He has had persistent injury issues in recent years but now hopes to get fully fit and back out on the pitch in his native New Zealand. Milner-Skudder previously played for the Hurricanes, who also offered him a deal before he opted for a move to Dunedin to join the Highlanders.

“I’ve heard some unreal things about the club and the culture at the Highlanders,” said Milner-Skudder. “I’m really  looking forward to the move to Dunedin and embracing everything it has to offer.

“I’m  excited for this new opportunity and can’t wait to get into some mahi [hard work] with the boys and lace up the boots for the Highlanders.”

nehe-milner-skudder-scores-a-try Milner scored in the World Cup final in 2015. Source: Photosport/Paul Thomas/INPHO

Highlanders boss Aaron Mauger welcomed the new addition:

“This was a great opportunity to include a  player with his experience into our squad. His style of play suits the way the Highlanders play the game, especially under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and we look forward to welcoming him into the team.”

While Milner-Skudder is hoping to make a return from injury at some stage this year, the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in New Zealand will kick-off on 13 June with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs. 

The Blues are at home against the Hurricanes the following day. 

The competition will be played out over the course of 10 weekends though until 15/16 August, with one of the five Kiwi franchises getting a rest in each round as two games are played every weekend.

The Crusaders had already confirmed that All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock has been given clearance to make his return for the Christchurch-based franchise.

Whitelock had move to Japanese club rugby after last year’s World Cup but returned to New Zealand due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has now been confirmed as part of the Crusaders squad for the upcoming Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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Murray Kinsella

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