Frustration for Milner-Skudder

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The 2015 World Cup-winning wing was set to join Springbok World Cup-winning lock from this year Eben Etzebeth at the club. Fellow former All Blacks Julian Savea and Liam Messam play for the side in France's Top 14 competition.

 

However, L'Equipe reported that Milner-Skudder, who hasn't played since November, 2018 due to a shoulder injury, is still dealing with complications occurring midway through the year from a previous shoulder operation.

 

Milner-Skudder has been plagued by injury since 2015 appearing in only five Tests in three years and in 35 games across four years for the Hurricanes.

 

The French League has not yet approved his contract. Before that happens he will have to undergo a medical examination but reports suggest that is unlikely to happen because of his shoulder issues.

 

In prospect to replace Milner-Skudder, if he is unable to take up his contract, is Wales fullback Liam Williams. A member of the Saracens club who are in strife over salary cap breaches, Williams would become available if released by the club.

 

Meanwhile, Messam has recovered from a thigh injury that kept him out of action for a month. He told rugbyrama.fr that he was feeling 100 percent and keen to return to play.

 

 

"I really take care of myself, I'm very careful. I have a work ethic that has been leading me since the beginning of my career, and I am still here in spite of my 35 years.

 

"I know my body is my tool, so I talk to it. Besides, being fit is a motivation for me. I want to show young people that I'm always here and that I have to rely on me," he said.

 

Toulon is developing a young team, apart from he and Georgian prop Mamuka Gorgodze, who is also 35.

 

"Here the guys call me grandpa," he said.

 

Messam said he enjoyed playing at Toulon which had a rich history and which had fielded some top players.

 

"But what I like even more is that the current group wants to create its story," he said.

 

Messam, who went to Toulon after a stint in Japan, said going to Europe had not been easy for him.

 

"Many things scared me. Rugby first. It is very different in Europe. I hoped to be able to adapt. Our way [New Zealand's] of seeing the game differs, but I absolutely wanted to discover the French know-how. And to see if I could have a positive impact, an influence on the game," he said.

 

Rugby in Europe involved more games and the season covered nearly a full year. Collisions in the Top 14 were stronger. Also, in Europe the locals liked the pre-game build-up whereas in New Zealand they preferred to avoid that element.

 

"It's really interesting, and rewarding, especially at my age, to continue learning from a sport that I enjoy so much," he said.

 

Messam, who is off contract at the end of the northern season, said he was uncertain what his future held. He hadn't talked with the Toulon club about his future but he was keen to have something sorted. Although retirement was the least of his priorities, he said.

 

"I will stop the day when my body will not follow, or the day when no one will want me," he said.

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