Super Rugby 2019: Liam Squire to miss Highlanders' tour of South Africa

The Highlanders will be without All Blacks flanker Liam Squire for their upcoming tour of South Africa due to personal reasons.

Squire was set to make his long-awaited return from injury against the Jaguars in Dunedin, but he withdrew from the match hours before kick-off. The Highlanders claimed a 32-27 victory.

The 28-year-old hasn't played since facing Ireland for the All Blacks in November as he's struggled with hip and knee problems.

Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger confirmed Squire wouldn't be on the plane to South Africa on Sunday and will miss games against the Lions and Stormers.

"Definitely Liam was a bit of a blow," Mauger said. "He's just dealing with some personal family issues at the moment.

"He won't come back on tour with us - at least for the first week, but as it stands, it's likely to be the duration of the tour.

"It's important that our boys are in the space to play the games and at the moment Liam's got to attend to a few things that he needs to deal to."   

If Squire does miss the entire tour, it means that he will have to wait until the penultimate round of the Super Rugby season to make his return, which will be against the Waratahs on June 7. 

Along with Squire, Mauger confirmed All Blacks lock Jackson Hemopo also won't be on the plane with a knee injury.

"Jackson Hemopo, he won't tour. We need to take fresh bodies, he won't be available for the first game against the Lions, so we want to make sure we've got fully fit bodies on the field.

"Jack Whetton, who came onto the field tonight, finished the game strong for us, and I thought Josh Dickson was outstanding, Tom Franklin another big shift from him."

The duo joins fellow All Black Ben Smith, who is expected to miss most, if not all the Super Rugby season.

In some good news though, the Highlanders will welcome back All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo and midfielder Teihorangi Walden, both of whom will be included in the touring squad.

Naholo has been sidelined since picking up a grade two MCL injury in March.

The win against the Jaguars lifts the Highlanders to fifth in overall standings with four games remaining before the playoffs.


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