The Highlanders will be without Aaron Smith for at least a month, after the influential All Blacks halfback suffered a serious ankle injury.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger told reporters Smith would be sidelined from Super Rugby for 4-6 weeks, after taking a blow late in last Friday's loss to the Blues in Auckland.
Mauger will seek another squad halfback to back up inexperienced pair Kayne Hammington and Folau Fakatava.
The injury update came just hours after Smith announced his engagement from Fiji, where he is holidaying with partner Teagan Voykovich during the Highlanders' bye week.
Losing their world-class number nine comes at a difficult time for the Highlanders, who are without a win since round two.
They have slipped to ninth overall and four of their next five games are against Kiwi teams.
Mauger has already lost the services of Liam Squire for most of the campaign, with the All Blacks flanker tearing a knee ligament earlier this month.
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