Lima’s joy at baby Milla
says. ‘‘I pinch myself now just thinking how good it is to be back around the boys. This environment definitely brings the best out in me. When you’ve got the best players in the world around you, there’s no choice but to go up another level.’’
Milner-Skudder knows he has got his chance through a setback to Dagg. Just as Dagg got his opportunity in 2016 through his absence.
‘‘I feel for him,’’ he says. ‘‘He’s It’s a shame to see him injured, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back.’’
Still, the jinking wing was rapt to be part of such a special performance last week against the South Africans.
‘‘We’ve talked about playing what we see, communicating that space and being able to execute. The opportunities were there but the way we executed was really good. And being out on the edge watching it all unfold, I was kinda buzzing out at the skill level.
‘‘Everything is more enjoyable when we’re playing well and the boys are trusting their ability and backing their instincts.’’
Of course, in the All Blacks minds refocus quickly. They had their issues with Argentina in New Plymouth, trailing 22-15 early in the second spell, and Milner-Skudder anticipates an even tougher foe back home. The absence of one or two heavyhitters will also sharpen the clarity. ALL Black Lima Sopoaga has welcomed his first child into the world, and declared the sacrifice in missing a rare test start a nobrainer.
The Highlanders and Southland first five-eighths and partner Miriam yesterday welcomed baby Milla into the world.
Sopoaga was a late withdrawal from the All Blacks’ trip to Argentina for next weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against the Pumas, replaced by Beauden Barrett who had originally been slated for a rare week off.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed on Friday before flying out of Auckland for Buenos Aires that Sopoaga would almost cer- tainly join them in Cape Town for the following weekend’s Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks.
‘‘If I have to wait another 799 days to start a test match ... I tell you what, the gift I was blessed with today is well worth it,’’ said Sopoaga on Twitter.
On Instagram, Sopaga posted a photo of his newborn with this message: ‘‘For all the things my hands have held the best by far is you. Welcome to the world Milla, your Mum & I Love and adore you.’’
Sopoaga would have started at No 10 for the All Blacks in Argentina had he made the trip, which would have been his first appearance in the run-on XV since he started his test debut against the Springboks in Johannesburg on July 25, 2015.
His 10 test appearances since then have all been off the bench.
Barrett said on Friday he had been fully prepared for the late callup, which came on Thursday night, and supported Sopoaga in his decision to prioritise for his baby’s arrival.
‘‘Obviously family comes first and it’s exciting for Lima,’’ Barrett said.
‘‘If I was in his position that’s exactly where I’d want to be expecting my first child.’’
I pinch myself now just thinking how good it is to be back around the boys.’ NEHE MILNER-SKUDDER
Nehe Milner-Skudder crosses for one of his two tries in the 57-0 demolition of the Springboks at Albany.
New father Lima Sopoaga.