Nehe Milner-Skudder returns to All Blacks after almost two year absence
It has been more than one year and nine months since Nehe Milner-Skudder pulled on the black jersey, but his waited for a ninth test cap could finally be coming to an end.
The Manawatu outside back was recalled to the All Blacks for their Rugby Championship squad, which was named on Monday.
Milner-Skudder set the rugby world alight in 2015 as he played a big role in the All Blacks' charge to the Rugby World Cup.
His eight tries in eight tests saw him recognised as World Rugby's breakthrough player of the year.
But a shoulder injury in 2016 slowed his charge onto the international scene as he missed most of the season.
He made a positive return to the field for the Hurricanes in 2017, but was once again sidelined with an ankle injury.
The 26-year-old returned to the field just before the start of the British and Irish Lions series, but it was not enough to convince the All Blacks selectors to rush him into the team.
He played for the New Zealand Maori and the Hurricanes in matches against the Lions and was solid in the back-end of the Hurricanes' campaign.
Milner-Skudder's return came at the expense of the Hurricanes teammate Julian Savea, who was surprisingly left on the outer.
His inclusion means that Manawatu retain their quota of three players in the All Blacks with Aaron Cruden's contract in France taking him out of contention.
Ngani Laumape retained his spot in the team after promising showings in his first two tests in June.
Laumape will likely be the fourth option in the midfield with Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown rated ahead of him.
Halfback Aaron Smith was once again retained along with TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
Smith, who has played 62 tests, is on track to over take Justin Marshall (81 tests) as the country's most capped halfback.
There were no new caps in named in the side, but prop Nepo Laulala was also recalled after he missed most of last season with injuries.
Fullback/ first five-eighth Damian McKenzie was named as the replacement for Ben Smith when his sabbatical starts after the first two Bledisloe Cup tests.
ALL BLACKS: Dane Coles (Wellington/Hurricanes, 49), Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, 8), Codie Taylor (Canterbury/Crusaders, 19), Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury/Crusaders, 62), Owen Franks (Canterbury/Crusaders, 94), Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau/Chiefs, 4), Joe Moody (Canterbury/Crusaders, 28), Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Auckland/Blues, 4), Scott Barrett (Taranaki/Crusaders, 8), Brodie Retallick (Hawke's Bay/Chiefs, 64), Luke Romano (Canterbury/Crusaders, 26), Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury/Crusaders, 88), Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs, 44), Vaea Fifita (Wellington/Hurricanes, 1), Jerome Kaino (Auckland/Blues, 74), Kieran Read, captain (Counties Manukau/ Crusaders, 100), Ardie Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes, 16), Liam Squire (Tasman/Highlanders, 8), Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato/Chiefs, 25), TJ Perenara (Wellington/Hurricanes, 33), Aaron Smith (Manawatu/Highlanders, 62), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes, 53)
Lima Sopoaga (Southland/Highlanders, 7), Ryan Crotty (Canterbury/Crusaders, 27), Ngani Laumape (Manawatu/Hurricanes, 2), Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato/Chiefs, 13), Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau/Blues, 36), Jordie Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes, 2), Israel Dagg (Hawke's Bay/Crusaders, 65), Rieko Ioane (Auckland/Blues, 4), Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu/Hurricanes, 8), Waisake Naholo (Taranaki/Highlanders, 13), Ben Smith (Otago/Highlanders, 62) Replacement: Damian McKenzie (Waikato/Chiefs, 2)