Super Rugby

Highlanders pay a price for victory over Brumbies

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The Highlanders victory over the Brumbies could have come at a cost as co-captain Shane Christie could miss their Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.

Christie is not the only doubt for the Highlanders as fellow backrower Liam Squire is also in doubt for this weekend.

There is some good new for the Dunedin franchise though as All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo could make his return this week.

Naholo scored three tries on Saturday for the Harbour Hawks in Dunedin club rugby during what was his first match since fracturing a leg in the Super Rugby season opener in February.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph could be tempted to start Naholo given how convincing he was in his return.

The likelihood of this happening is strong as right wing Jack Wilson fractured a finger against the Brumbies and Naholo scored 13 tries in last year’s Super Rugby campaign.

Christie and Squire both suffered injuries in the Highlanders 23-10 victory over the Brumbies at Invercargill while second five-eighth Rob Thompson is also recovering from a head knock.

Thompson will need to complete concussion protocols before he can be considered for selection this weekend.

The Highlanders have already lost hooker Liam Coltman and key utility back Hayden Parker to season ending injuries.

Both loose forwards Christie and Squire will be assessed this week to see if they can return.

“The concerning one is Shane Christie, our captain, with a pulled hamstring,” Joseph told Stuff.

“He’s not the sort of guy to walk off, so that suggests he’s probably done a good one.”

Joseph said he was not certain if Christie had re-injured the hamstring that troubled him during the Super Rugby playoffs last year but is trying to remain positive.

“He walked off, he didn’t limp off and he didn’t get carried off, so that’s not a bad sign. Maybe he was taking precautions (because) he didn’t want to be in the same situation as last year.”

Meanwhile Squire had “a sore shoulder” around the AC joint but Joseph said he still had to be assessed.

“Again, he’s a tough bugger, he wouldn’t have walked off if he wasn’t sore.”

Joseph confirmed that Parker “ruptured his cruciate ligaments” in his knee at training in Dunedin last Thursday.

“He wasn’t doing too much either, it was a bit like (All Black) Aaron Cruden’s injury. He was just running along when his knee (went at) a funny angle.

“He’s going to have an operation and he’ll be out of the rest of the season.”

Joseph expects Marty Banks to return from injury but said he would “still bring in” another first five-eighth, “but we don’t know who that is yet”.

“We need to bring a hooker in as well.”

Joseph said it was “a pretty rugged competition” and “generally what happens around now (at round 11 or 12) is there’s a part where players get sore and tired or fatigued.”

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