Steve Hansen says Nehe Milner-Skudder is fine despite leaving All Blacks' game of three halves

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says winger Nehe Milner-Skudder is fine, despite leaving the field with a jaw problem in last night's game of three halves in Christchurch.

Speaking to media after the match, Hansen said there were no injury concerns to his squad.

"It was good, it was everything we wanted," he said.

"We obviously didn't come out to play too many of our structures and patterns. We just wanted to give people a run and we got plenty of people on the park, and got the rugby into them."

Milner-Skudder, 27, was helped from the field last night, after an apparent knock to his in a tackle.

He scored a try in the hit out ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test next weekend.

The star winger's injury woes appear to have struck once again. Source: 1 NEWS


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NZ, Australia competing to host 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup

New Zealand has entered a race against Australia to host the 2021 women's Rugby World Cup.

NZ Rugby confirmed it submitted a bid to stage the ninth edition of the tournament, three days after Rugby Australia unveiled details of its proposal.

Both countries want to become the four-yearly event's first southern hemisphere host.

A tournament in New Zealand would be held at up to four venues, including Eden Park, in host cities Auckland and Whangarei

The bid has secured financial backing from the government and local councils.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country has a proven record of hosting major events, including the 2011 men's Rugby World Cup and the 2015 cricket World Cup, which it shared with Australia.

She also described New Zealand as the "home of women's rugby", with the Black Ferns having clinched their fifth world championship title last year.

NZ Rugby is exploring the option of running a Pacific Island women's rugby tournament alongside the World Cup.

Australia's bid is for a tournament staged at venues in Newcastle and the Hunter Region in NSW.

Other nations are expected to bid, with a hosting decision made by World Rugby on November 14.

NZ Rugby Head of Women’s Rugby Development Cate Sexton talks about the bid for the 2021 World Cup. Source: 1 NEWS


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Rugby Australia looking to lock down more stars with long-term deals after retaining Michael Hooper

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has put country before cash and signed a five- year contract extension, and he and coach Michael Cheika hope similar long-term deals can put an end to player drain.

Hooper is expected to pocket about $6 million but could have earned far more if he opted for lucrative club contracts in Europe and Japan.

Hooper is desperate to rebuild Australia into the force they once were. Stopping teammates putting their international careers on hold will play a large role in that mission.

It's easier said than done for Rugby Australia (RA), which isn't in a financial position to make Godfather offers.

Cheika admits "the majority of players in Australia, at the Wallabies sort of level, could get more money playing overseas".

"But I think we do an exceptional job in creating an environment where players want to stay ... they're prepared to make financial sacrifices," he said.

"We've talked about long-term deals with several players over the years but often they're not encouraged to do that (by managers).

"We'll try to pick the targets and it'll be interesting to see if guys come to us and say they want longer.

"A lot of it is in the players' court ... Michael was really open to the idea."

Monster deals are becoming increasingly common in rival football codes. The most extreme examples are Lance Franklin's nine-year AFL agreement with Sydney and Daly Cherry-Evans' eight-year NRL extension with Manly.

In contrast, Hooper is just the second player in Australian rugby history to take up a five-year deal after ex-rugby league star Lote Tuqiri in 2007.

It's the sort of carrot RA could dangle in front of Israel Folau and Bernard Foley, who remain unsigned for 2019 and beyond.

"I put the heat on them yesterday," Hooper laughed.

"Everyone makes their own mind up.

"But if (long-term deals) are out there and people are willing to do it then fantastic. It's great. You can lock it in, build a future."

Cheika noted RA has had "really good discussions" with Folau and Foley.

"They've been very positive from both sides ... I want them to stay and play in Australia and I think they do as well," he said.

Hooper, who's been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the June Test series against Ireland, insisted he never gave serious thought to walking away from the Wallabies.

The 26-year-old is confident he'll captain Australia in their Bledisloe Cup opener against New Zealand at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on August 18.

The new deal means he'll be available to lead Australia at the next two World Cup tournaments in 2019 and 2023, adding to his 82 Tests.

Wallabies' Michael Hooper gestures to the crowd after Australia wins the match 29-15.
Wallabies' Michael Hooper gestures to the crowd after Australia wins the match 29-15. Source: Associated Press


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