May 13, 2020 / 5:33 AM / 17 days ago

Rugby-Milner-Skudder to resurrect injury-blighted career at Highlanders

WELLINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - Former All Blacks winger Nehe Milner-Skudder will look to resurrect his rugby career with Super Rugby’s Otago Highlanders after a long-term shoulder injury kept him from playing for French club Toulon.

The Highlanders and Milner-Skudder confirmed on Wednesday he had signed with the Dunedin-based side with hopes to play in the locally-based competition involving New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams when it starts in June.

He will also be available for the 2021 Super Rugby season, effectively ending his French career before it began.

“Excited to play again in one of the best comps I’ve ever played in,” the 2015 World Cup winner said on Twitter. “It’s going to look a bit different in many ways, but I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Toulon announced in December 2018 they had signed Milner-Skudder on a three-year contract starting ahead of the 2019/20 season.

The 29-year-old, however, never played for the Top 14 club due to the long-term injury that kept him out for all of last year and he said last December he was staying in New Zealand to continue his rehabilitation.

The 2020 Super Rugby season was postponed in March after seven rounds and is not expected to resume because of travel curbs and border controls due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

With the rate of new infections slowed to a trickle, New Zealand’s government loosened its domestic restrictions from Thursday allowing New Zealand Rugby to organise the 10-week local competition starting on June 13.

The Highlanders open the competition against the Waikato Chiefs at home.

Milner-Skudder had previously spent his entire Super Rugby career with the Wellington Hurricanes and burst onto the international scene in 2015, where he became the All Blacks starting right wing for the Rugby World Cup.

Foot and shoulder injuries, however, restricted his appearances over the next three seasons and he needed to have shoulder surgery again last year before he joined Toulon.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Michael Perry

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