Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger has told reporters scrum-half Aaron Smith will be out of action until early May with an ankle injury.
The All Black sustained the issue as the Highlanders Super Rugby match against the Blues reached its conclusion, and Mauger confirmed Smith would miss game time.
“He’s probably going to be four to six weeks, hopefully earlier but it’s looking like that time, the end of April, start of May,” the former Leicester head coach said after watching his said slip to a 33-26 defeat.
“He got it with a couple of minutes to go and it wasn’t too bad at the start and he carried on for those last few minutes but it was pretty sore afterwards,” Mauger said.
Smith’s injury comes as a major blow to the Highlanders with four of the team’s next five matches coming against New Zealand opposition.
An early return from injury could see the World Cup-winner feature in the rematch with the Blues on April 20. While a worst-case scenario could see him miss matches against Hurricanes, Crusaders, Blues, Sunwolves and Chiefs.
Mauger admitted he has started the process of finding short-term cover for Smith, despite having Kayne Hammington and youngster Folau Fakatava on the Highlanders roster.
“We’re just having a look around at the moment and we’ll probably have that sorted in the next couple of days,” Mauger said.
“We’re not in this week so we have a bit of time up our sleeves to have a look around.”
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