Nehe Milner-Skudder © Gallo Images
All Black utility back Nehe Milner-Skudder was told on Tuesday he will be out for at least six weeks with a foot injury, leaving his dream of facing the British and Irish Lions hanging by a thread.
Milner-Skudder fell awkwardly in a tackle during Wellington Hurricanes' Super Rugby loss to Waikato Chiefs on Friday and scans showed a break in his right foot.
"It's disappointing but these things happen in rugby... it was just a freak accident," he said in a statement.
The Hurricanes said it was a small fracture that required rest, not surgery, but Milner-Skudder would be out for at least six weeks.
The match was only Milner-Skudder's second outing after a season-long layoff in 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He scored a hat-trick of tries in his comeback against the Melbourne Rebels.
A six-week Super Rugby absence, possibly longer, puts the 26-year-old on the sidelines until late April.
With the Lions arriving in June, that leaves him only half a dozen Super Rugby matches to persuade All Blacks selectors he is fully fit.
Milner-Skudder's last test was the 2015 Rugby World Cup final against Australia, when he scored a try to take his tally for the tournament to six.
His chances of facing the Lions may be boosted by the fact that fellow All Black backs Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Seta Tamanivalu and Lima Sopoaga are all nursing injuries after the bruising early Super Rugby rounds.