Fresh off a stint on the gymnastics rings, Hurricanes and All Blacks flyer Nehe Milner-Skudder can’t wait to play rugby again.
The 26-year-old hasn’t played since dislocating his left shoulder against the Blues in March.
The injury ruled him out of the Hurricanes’ title-winning Super Rugby campaign, as well as the All Blacks’ entire Test program.
But a long and frustrating recuperation is almost over for the eight-cap livewire, with a pre-season return slated for February 3 against the Auckland-based Blues.
He’s likely to then take part in the following week’s Brisbane Tens tournament.
“I’ve already got the calendar, ticking off the days, I’ve been excited for a couple months,” Milner-Skudder told reporters.
“The medical team is happy with how it’s tracking, so I’m going to rip into it and go hard when I get the chance.”
The Hurricanes, missing many of their holidaying Test stars, have been mixing up their pre-season workouts with cycling, gymnastics, Pilates and boxing.
Eschewing full contact training, the reigning Super Rugby champions were also playing plenty of touch rugby and conditioning games.
For Milner-Skudder, there was no better way of testing out the shoulder.
“It’s pretty hard yakka, getting the shoulders burning, and the core had a good workout too,” Milner-Skudder said.
“Feels like an age since I got the boots on.”
Milner-Skudder, who can play at fullback or on the wing, is likely to pull on the No.15 jumper in 2017 after the departure of fullback James Marshall to Europe.
The Manawatu native was unfazed by the move to fullback but knew he’d have plenty of homework to get through first.
“You’ve got a bit more ground work to cover, especially that back field, so I’ll probably be knuckling down with more analysis work,” Milner-Skudder said.
“I’m pretty keen to just be out there and contributing.”