Former All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder has revealed how difficult a decision it was to turn down the Hurricanes to join the Highlanders.
It was last week announced that the 13-cap wing will switch allegiance ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign after signing a two-year deal with the Dunedin-based franchise.
In a wide-ranging interview, the 29-year-old joined ex-Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate Ardie Savea on the latter’s podcast to discuss the transfer, which only came to fruition after a move to French club Toulon fell through due to Milner-Skudder’s ongoing shoulder issues.
“I was hoping to make the announcement on my own terms, but in this day and age with the media and scoops it didn’t work that way, but it doesn’t take way from the excitement and the amazing feeling that it is a fresh start and new opportunity for myself, wife and family,” he said.
“I’m really stoked. The Landers club have an amazing culture and awesome set up for me with where I’m at in my career and what’s happened over the last couple of years. I’m chomping at the bit to get there and get stuck in.”
The former World Rugby breakthrough player of the year, who won the award in the same year that he helped the All Blacks win the 2015 World Cup, described it as difficult to leave the Hurricanes after having been part of the franchise for six seasons.
“That’s something we always talk about playing rugby is those connections and relationships you build.
“I’ve been very fortunate to spend six seasons at the Hurricanes and I have so much respect and love for them and everything they have done for me and my wh?nau.
“Even just giving me the opportunity to have a crack at this level and being part of something special.”
“That 2015 year still stings a little bit and the fact that the Landers beat us in that final will create a few conversation starters going down to Dunedin, but that said I feel like I can move with some relationships in a good space and catch some old foes and friends.”
While it wasn’t an easy decision to move south from the Kiwi capital, Milner-Skudder said the novelty of playing under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium had its appeal.
“People say you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, but when it comes to playing at the Cake Tin in all the wind and what not, it will be a nice feeling not to have to check the weather forecast before games.”
Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on June 13 when the Highlanders host the Chiefs in Dunedin at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
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