The Highlanders have been placed on the back foot before the Super Rugby season kicks off thanks to an ever-lengthening injury list, with centre Kendrick Lynn and wing Kade Poki the latest casualties.
Both players were injured in the pre-season clash with the Crusaders last week, and although Poki may recover in time for the Highlanders' first match of the season against the Chiefs Lynn will be out for at least two months.
The steady midfielder hardly missed a game for the Highlanders last year, but is set for some time on the sidelines after fracturing his neck whereas Poki is in a race against time to recover from a strain to his knee ligament.
But these are just the most recent additions to an injury list that includes the likes of flyhalf Colin Slade, skipper Jamie Mackintosh, lock Josh Bekhuis, and backline aces Shaun Treeby and Siale Piutau.
Slade, who hardly played for the Highlanders last year after breaking his jaw twice, is still recovering from an off-season operation and is in the same boat as Mackintosh and Bekhuis.
Piutau's leg is still in a cast as he recovers from an operation on a tendon in his ankle, and coach Jamie Joseph admitted that his resources are spread pretty thin, especially in midfield with the loss of Lynn.
He told Fairfax media: "Three of our injuries are in the midfield. I haven't got a midfield at the moment. We've got some good depth in some areas, but our midfield, especially, is going to be tested."
Joseph was happy with the way that his team rallied to bounce back against the Crusaders last week after conceding 35 points in the first half, but added that the score was not the focus as he tried to juggle his players and ensure that they all had a decent run ahead of the new season.
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