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Former All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder to make Highlanders debut as injury cover call-up

Former All Black and fan favourite Nehe Milner-Skudder will go up against his old Super Rugby team tonight after being called up as a late injury replacement for the Highlanders.

Nehe Milner-Skudder Source: Getty

The Highlanders announced Milner-Skudder will cover Josh Ioane, who has been ruled out of the game in Wellington due to a lower leg injury suffered at training.

Rather than promote someone from the bench, coach Tony Brown has opted to bring in Milner-Skudder to handle the No.15 jersey.

The match will have little effect on the overall storyline of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition — the Chiefs and Crusaders are already confirmed for next week's final — but the game will have plenty of meaning for the Manawatu old boy.

Outside of preseason games, Milner-Skudder is yet to don a Highlanders jersey and his last official Super Rugby match was back in 2018 with the Hurricanes.

Milner-Skudder shot to stardom in 2015 when his stellar form saw him shoot to a place in the All Blacks’ starting line-up on the right wing as they defended their Rugby World Cup crown.

But since then, the “Skudder Step” user has been set back time and time again by shoulder injuries which seriously hindered his international career and, eventually, his Super Rugby career.

Milner-Skudder revealed last year on former teammate Ardie Savea’s podcast the injuries took a toll physically and mentally.

 "There were so many times I was crying on my bedroom floor. I was talking to my wife: 'Babe, I've had enough. I'm going to chuck it all in,'” he said at the time.

"She was like: 'Nah. Get up. Get on with things.' There was a balance between that and reminding me why I do what I do."

Milner-Skudder will finally get a chance to show those reasons tonight when the Highlanders-Hurricanes game kicks off at 7pm.