Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will almost certainly miss the All Blacks' end of year tour to the United States and Europe in November due to his shoulder injury.
It is a further blow for the 25-year-old, who will be absent from the Hurricanes in Saturday's Super Rugby final against the Lions after he suffered a dislocated shoulder while playing for Chris Boyd's men against the Blues at Eden Park in round three of the competition.
He has had surgery and hoped to be back playing before the end of the year, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen today said the little back with the quickest feet in world rugby had little chance to make it. Milner-Skudder was also unlikely to play for Manawatu in the Mitre 10 Cup.
"At the moment we don't see him being available for the end of year tour... he would probably need everything to go pitch-perfect," Hansen said. "Is the risk too high? We wouldn't want to take him and for him to get injured again. We'll assess him later nearer the time... if there's any doubt at all we won't take him.
"My understanding is that if he was going to be right for the tour we'd only get him for one game. Do we need to push it? The simple answer is no we don't."
Milner-Skudder was a revelation on the right wing for the All Blacks after he made his debut in last year's Rugby Championship. Milner-Skudder scored two tries in the loss to Australia in Sydney and sparkled at the World Cup, scoring six tries, including one in the final against the Wallabies.
In his absence the All Blacks will turn to Waisake Naholo, a player with X-factor, but also a potential to make mistakes, as evidenced in the first test against Wales in Auckland in June.
While Milner-Skudder lacks height and can struggle under the high ball compared with taller players, his pace, consistency and finishing ability make him an important player for the All Blacks.
"There are things about his game that he has to develop too [but] certainly there are things about his game that are world class," Hansen said. "The interesting thing will be watching him come back. There's not anyone better, I don't think, on their feet. He can turn on a six pence so that's a handy tool to have. While he's not here we have to develop what we've got."
The All Blacks begin their northern tour with a test against Ireland in Chicago on November 5, and play further tests against Italy in Rome, Ireland in Dublin, and France in Paris.