The Highlanders have been dealt another blow as No.8 Nasi Manu will miss most of the Super Rugby season if not all of it.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has confirmed that Manu dislocated a ligament in his foot playing against the Chiefs in last weekend's Super Rugby opener in Dunedin.
Joseph said that Manu has surgery on the injured foot on Monday night and he will not be able to put any weight on his foot for six weeks.
Once Manu's foot can bear some weight he is looking at a further six weeks in a moon boot before he can start training again.
The injury is a blow not only for the Highlanders but also for Manu as he missed most of the 2010 Super (14) Rugby season due to a knee injury but has been a regular player for the Highlanders in the last two seasons.
"He is going to have a long spell on the sideline," Joseph told Sportal.
The twenty-four-year-old has played 49 Super Rugby matches and was in line to win his 50th Super Rugby cap against the Cheetahs in Invercargill on Saturday week.
The Highlanders are already thin on loose forwards as Adam Thomson is moving to Japan.
"It is extremely bad luck for Nasi but there is an opportunity for someone else to come along and make the position their own," Joseph said.
Joseph said that they would not immediately call for a replacement as he feels they have adequate cover in the meantime.
Southland No.8 Elliot Dixon featured for the Highlanders in the second half of their Super Rugby opener.
In other news first five-eighths Colin Slade is in line to come off the bench against the Cheetahs after he played for Highlanders development side in Christchurch.
Regular captain Andrew Hore is expected to return against the Cheetahs as he will have served his suspension by then.