The Highlanders have suffered another blow as flanker John Hardie's Super Rugby season is all but over as he needs surgery on a fractured toe.
The Southland flanker has been in outstanding form in the opening rounds of Super Rugby this year and coach Jamie Joseph even labeled him as one of his best players.
However the 23-year-old fractured his toe playing against the Hurricanes in Wellington during Round 4 and played through the injury.
"He's had a bit of a sore toe for quite some time," revealed coach Joseph.
"He actually broke it; he felt it go in Wellington, which is a new injury."
"You get a guy like Hards, he's a tough guy and he wants to play every weekend; he wants to be an All Black, mate, so he can't do that on the sideline."
Hardie himself is understandably disappointed that his season has been but short after showing such promise in the early rounds.
"I was starting to feel good, I was starting to feel comfortable and getting confidence," Hardie told Fairfax.
"It's just a bit of a bugger and pretty gutting. But it's rugby, you've just got to accept injuries. They happen for a reason, I suppose."
The Southlander was expected to see a specialist on Monday and a decision will be made on whether to go ahead with the surgery immediately.
"(The specialist) is thinking maybe 14 weeks, something like that, until I can start back playing, which I worked out would be one game to go in the season and I probably wouldn't be fit enough."