The Highlanders' flyhalf stocks are running short early in the season, with Colin Slade still unavailable and Chris Noakes in doubt for Saturday's match against the Crusaders.
Noakes put in a good performance against the Chiefs in Round One, but is nursing an ankle complaint he picked up in the 23-19 victory last weekend.
The Dunedin side's first choice playmaker Slade is fit to play, but coach Jamie Joseph is unwilling to risk his star No.10 before he is ready for the rigours of Super Rugby.
That leaves Lima Sopoaga as the front runner for the No.10 jersey for a tough match against the Crusaders, who are without their own star flyhalf, Dan Carter.
While Slade is nearing full match fitness, he is happy to take his comeback cautiously to avoid yet another setback in his already injury-plagued career.
"I trained last week and I came through pretty well," Slade told the media. "I just need to get my kicking volume up a little bit, along with a bit more peak training.
"The hernia operation was just a patch-up job and is not the thing holding me back. It is the groin operation that I am just coming back from. I just need to gain more strength from that.
"There is perhaps a psychological barrier that I need to overcome. I am kicking balls at about 75 per cent but I suppose there is a little bit of a feeling that when you go to hit one really hard you are going to put it under a bit too much stress."
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