Rugby: Who should replace Milner-Skudder in black?

Nehe Milner-Skudder will be unable to recreate his outstanding debut season after suffering injury. Photo / Getty
Nehe Milner-Skudder will be unable to recreate his outstanding debut season after suffering injury. Photo / Getty

With Nehe Milner-Skudder's dislocated shoulder ruling him out for the rest of the Super Rugby season, the All Blacks' right wing will miss at least the June internationals against Wales. Our rugby writers weigh in on who should replace the Milner-Skudder in black.

Wynne Gray: Waisake Naholo

Like for like. The brilliant Nehe Milner-Skudder will miss the All Blacks series against Wales in June but with traditional healing methods this time, Waisake Naholo should be back from his broken leg.

He suffered another fracture in his right leg in the first round of Super Rugby but conservative estimates have him playing again in two months - enough time to get him back into full racing trim in the weeks leading into the three-test visit from Wales.

If Naholo does not scrub up then Cory Jane is another very experienced right wing who carries all the class needed for international combat.

Another option would be to use Rene Ranger, the former All Black who is back at the Blues and can play across the three-quarter line. His style fits the mix of workrate, defence and adventurous attack the All Black coaches want.

Suggestions Ben Smith should shift to the wing are off the mark. He is great there but even more value in his preferred fullback duties where the breadth of his work has left Israel Dagg's contributions in the shadows.

Kris Shannon: Damian McKenzie

The safe and sensible option for replacing Nehe Milner-Skudder is selecting one of a couple of viable right wing candidates already on the scene.

The unexpected and exciting alternative is taking the chance to blood one of the most in-form players in Super Rugby.

Damian McKenzie will eventually play for the All Blacks - his undoubted talent in two positions ensures that - and Milner-Skudder's misfortune creates an opportunity for his elevation to arrive sooner rather than later.

Perhaps not in the first test at Eden Park but, at some point in the Wales series, Ben Smith should shift back to the right wing and McKenzie should be given a chance to show his wares at fullback.

The 20-year-old has been the Chiefs' best back so far this season, sparking an attack among the best in the competition and forming with Aaron Cruden a two-headed play-making beast, with both taking turns at first receiver to puzzle opposition defences.

And if there's any doubting that form can be repeated on the international scene, given McKenzie's lack of Super Rugby experience, just consider the impact Milner-Skudder made after his maiden campaign.

Smith still has enough mileage and the legs and, certainly, enough ability to play fullback through to the next World Cup. But bringing McKenzie into the environment as early as possible would provide him with plenty of practise and provide Steve Hansen an electric option to cover both first five and fullback off the bench.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 May 2017 04:26:27 Processing Time: 325ms