Doug Tietjens is the latest casualty but the Highlanders
will soon be boosted by some powerful reinforcements.
Tietjens' season ended in unlucky fashion when he ruptured
his Achilles tendon playing a game of touch last week.
The 27-year-old loose forward, from Manawatu, was in his
second season with the Highlanders.
''There was no reason for the injury. He had no tightness
before the game,'' Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph told the
Otago Daily Times yesterday.
''It was just an unfortunate accident.''
Tietjens is the second Highlander to be scratched for the
season. Outside back Declan O'Donnell (shoulder) is gone, and
it has been confirmed he will be replaced by Waikato utility
All Black midfielder Tamati Ellison is recovering from
shoulder surgery but it is hoped he will be back before the
end of the Super 15.
No 8 Nasi Manu has a hamstring problem and utility forward
Jake Paringatai has a broken hand.
Tietjens' misfortune is good news for Otago captain Paul
Grant, who has been brought into the Highlanders as temporary
cover for the loose forwards.
''We have interim cover with Paul and we will be looking for
permanent cover at some stage,'' Joseph said.
A wildcard for the replacement spot could be Adam Thomson,
the All Black loose forward, who has no rugby commitments
until his expected move to Japan next season.
Joseph, well accustomed to dealing with injuries, has not yet
pressed the panic button.
''We don't play until the end of February. If this was the
end of February, I'd be more worried.
''I'm used to having injuries. It is all part of it. That is
why we have big squads.
''Our situation has been compounded because guys like John
Hardie, Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga are returning from
surgery. They will return in time but haven't participated
fully in pre-season training.''
The Highlanders will tramp 25km into the Greenstone Valley on
Saturday morning to a base camp for three days to give the
squad ''an appreciation of the type of people and terrain
they represent in the deep South,'' Joseph said.
The players will be given an understanding of what is
expected from management and the behaviour they want from the
team on and off the field.
Former All Black Brad Thorn will fly from Japan and meet the
team in Queenstown today.
''He will come from Japan in the middle of winter to go up
the Greenstone, where temperatures could reach 30degC,''
The team's returning All Blacks, plus new recruits Ma'a Nonu
and Tony Woodcock, will also join the team for the Queenstown
''It will give Ma'a Nonu and the new players who are not from
the South an understanding of the type of area we are
representing,'' Joseph said.