Hurricanes flyer Nehe Milner-Skudder looms as an unlikely starter for the impending All Blacks series against the British & Irish Lions, as he struggles to recover from yet another untimely injury.
Named 2015 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, after helping New Zealand defend its World Cup title in England, Milner-Skudder has seen very little playing time since, sitting out most of last year with a shoulder injury.
His latest affliction - he broke bones in his foot against the Chiefs last month - has not healed as quickly as hoped and Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd admits he's a long shot to face the tourists in June.
"The solidification of the bone in his foot is slow," Boyd told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch. "It's a low blood-flow area, so it's slow.
"We initially thought [it would take] six weeks, so post the bye that's coming up after Blues and Brumbies. He may be ready to come in at the back end of that, he may not.
"It's one of those ones that he's worked incredibly hard to keep fit and strong and healthy in other ways, but he's got a wound that's not helping him at the moment."
Even if Milner-Skudder does make it back onto the park, he will probably need some time to hit top form and could be a risky selection for the national team.
"I don't think he would have played an awful amount of rugby, before they pick the All Blacks to play the British and Irish Lions," Boyd told Veitch.
"Whether that's the preparation that the All Blacks want for that, it depends what sort of back three they're looking for and who else is fit, because there have been a couple of dings in that space.
"I think [Milner-Skudder] will be available, but he won't have played a whole lot of rugby."
The All Black selectors have been faced with a long casualty list among their fullback/wing stocks this season and will be reluctant to blood newcomers against a formidable British & Irish side.
Incumbent No 15 Ben Smith lost several weeks through early concussion concerns, Israel Dagg is still sidelined after knee surgery, while injury-prone Waisake Naholo is currently rehabilitating a hamstring strain.
If any of those are ruled out of the Lions series - and Milner-Skudder may already be in that category - in-form Hurricanes utility Jordie Barrett could yet find himself thrown in the deep end.
"He's got a great temperament, there's no doubt about that," says Boyd. "If you were to write a CV for fullback in the modern game - ability to diffuse the aerial game, great vision, a very long punting game, he's very brave ...
"He's not Christian Cullen, but he's very close. He's got a great skill set for a fullback.
"Whether they're prepared to put him into his first test series against the British & Irish Lions will be interesting to see. It will probably depend on where Israel Dagg's fitness is and where Ben Smith's at, so there's some good contenders for the back three."