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The Tasman winger and former New Zealand Colt was named yesterday as a replacement for injured Highlanders rookie Connor Garden-Bachop for next season.
In a statement, the Highlanders said the debut season for Garden-Bachop was over before it even got off the ground.
The young outside back sustained a lower back injury in February and despite treatment, it has continued to give him trouble.
As a result, the decision has been made to operate on his back before Christmas, and the procedure will require a recovery time of six to seven months.
He will return to Dunedin post his operation to begin his rehabilitation with the Highlanders’ medical staff.
Connor-Bachop is the younger brother of Hurricanes first five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop and the son of Black Fern Sue Garden and All Black Stephen Bachop.
Only 20, Garden-Bachop has played for Canterbury and Wellington but injury restricted his appearances this year.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said it was bad luck for the young winger but the right decision had been made to get his back sorted.
‘‘His back has been preventing him from training fully. He is still a very young player and it’s in his best interests to get it sorted now so we can rehabilitate him well through the Super season. Then he can come back strong through the Mitre 10 competition later in the year,’’ Mauger said.
Fainga’anuku (21) is a hard-running winger and elder brother of Leicester, who is with the Crusaders.
He played for the successful NZ Colts in 2017 and for the Crusaders in 2018 before playing in France earlier this year.
Coming in as a replacement can often open doors.
Richard Buckman joined the squad in 2014 as injury cover and went on to have a top career with the side.
Dillon Hunt came in for some injured flankers in 2017 and became an All Black within a year.