Highlanders No 8 Nasi Manu will spend at least the next
three months on the sideline.
Manu (24) was forced off with a foot injury in Friday night's
match against the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said Manu had dislocated a
ligament in his foot and was due to have an operation on it
''That will be six weeks out for Nasi for not bearing any
weight on it and then another six weeks in a moon boot. And
after that he is going to have to get fit again, so that is
going to be a long spell on the sideline,'' Joseph said.
The loss of Manu is a big blow for the Highlanders. The No 8
has been a damaging ball-runner and a virtual ever-present in
the team in the past couple of seasons.
With another mainstay, blindside flanker Adam Thomson, taking
up a contract in Japan, the Highlanders are going to field a
rejigged loose forward trio.
Southland No 8 Elliot Dixon came on to fill in for Manu
against the Chiefs and did an admirable job. Joe Wheeler and
John Hardie completed the loose trio.
''With Manu and Thomson there, they played nearly every game
for us, so there is going to be a change,'' Joseph said.
''But that just means an opportunity for someone else to come
along and make that position their own.''
He said a replacement for Manu, who played his 49th Super 15
game on Friday night, could be called into the squad but
there would be no rush as there was adequate cover in the
Otago captain Paul Grant joined the squad last month as
injury cover for Jake Paringatai and Doug Tietjens and is
likely to continue his stay. Paringatai has recovered from a
broken hand and is playing again.
Having viewed the tape of the 41-27 loss to the Chiefs in the
season opener, Joseph said the Highlanders had created enough
chances to win the game but did not finish off.
He also said the defence was disappointing from his side, and
that needed to be improved.
Captain Andrew Hore missed last Friday's game in the final
game of his suspension received from the All Black test
against Wales last year.
The Highlanders will enjoy getting their skipper back but big
lock Brad Thorn is still not at full fitness. Joseph said
they had a little time to get him fit before the next game,
against the Cheetahs in Invercargill on March 9.
The Highlanders have the bye this week and are spending the
next couple of days in Maniototo, training at the area school
Paringatai played for the Highlanders development side on
Saturday against the Crusaders Knights in Christchurch and
helped his side to a 36-15 win after leading 15-8 at
Shaun Treeby scored two tries, while other tryscorers were
Buxton Popoali'i, Jamie Mackintosh, Michael Collins and Jason
Emery. Trent Renata slotted two conversions and Colin Slade,
who played 40 minutes, kicked one conversion.