Four years after turning his back on league in Australia, Nehe Milner-Skudder’s switch to rugby union has paid dividends.
The former Canterbury Bulldogs under-20s player, who was named in New Zealand’s first squad of the year, said his selection for the All Blacks proved it was the right move.
“I guess it’s worked out pretty well,” said the 24-year-old Hurricanes outside back.
“But in saying that, I enjoyed my time over there (Australia) and the experience I had, and that’s definitely helped in the way I play the game now.”
He says he still can’t believe his fast progression.
“I can’t really believe it at this stage – just going back to last year and just the progress that has happened to now,” he said.
Milner-Skudder made his Super Rugby debut off the bench against the Western Force in late February and was handed the No.15 jersey in the Hurricanes’ next match against the Blues.
Since then, he said, he hadn’t looked beyond trying to keep his spot in the side.
“To think about the All Blacks was a bit over my head,” he said.
“I felt it was a bit way down the track, but I’m just chuffed and pretty happy to be in the mix now.”
A dynamic runner with an eye for the gap, he credited Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd and his assistants for encouraging him to stick to his natural style.
“They know the way I play,” he said.
“I like to have a crack pretty much every time I get the ball. They always give me confidence and push for me to play the way I do and just express myself.”
There is All Blacks pedigree in his family – cousin Buff Milner (1969) and uncle George Skudder (1970) each earning a Test cap.