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Milner-Skudder still in dark on sore ankle

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

Nehe Milner-Skudder © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Nehe Milner-Skudder Hurricanes flyer Nehe Milner-Skudder is no closer to knowing the extent of the ankle injury he picked up against the Chiefs on Friday.

But assistant coach Jason Holland has confirmed the eight-cap All Black will not take to the field against the Highlanders this weekend.

Milner-Skudder, 26, came down awkwardly on his right ankle in the Hamilton wet and was escorted from the field as his side lost 26-18.

He was seen wearing a moon boot at training on Monday but Holland said the World Cup-winner was in good spirits and keeping positive.

If a suspected ankle ligament injury is confirmed, Milner-Skudder could miss at least four weeks of Super Rugby action.

"He's disappointed obviously but even this morning, we had a backs review and he's all energy and chatting and contributing," Holland said.

"He's a pretty good character and (has) a pretty positive frame of mind."

If the Canes fullback does miss an extended period of rugby, it will be the latest blow in a long string of injury misfortune.

Fresh off helping his country to the Webb Ellis Cup in 2015, Milner-Skudder injured his shoulder in the early Super Rugby rounds of 2016.

He missed the remainder of the season as a result, including the Hurricanes' maiden Super Rugby triumph and the All Blacks' near-perfect Test campaign.

After finally overcoming his shoulder problems, he then picked up a hamstring strain and missed the side's round one mauling of the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

Yet the Manawatu player isn't the only Test back to go down in recent weeks, with Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Waisake Naholo all crocked.

"There's definitely some backs there breaking down, so I don't know, looking into the time of the year or whatever," Holland said.

"It's probably just unfortunate at the moment."

The Highlanders have been ravaged by injury in the opening weeks of Super Rugby, made worse by the loss of Naholo and Lima Sopoaga against the Blues last week.

The pair join Smith, Liam Squire, Ash Dixon, James Lentjes and Shane Christie in the Highlanders' injury ward.

Yet Holland said his side wouldn't underestimate their southern opponents, and would need to improve their defence and kicking game.

"They still put a pretty good XV on the field, those boys," Holland said.

"Hurricanes-Highlanders is going to be massive whatever's happening, so we've got no illusions as to what the challenge is going to be."

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