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The latest to go down is hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate who is to have surgery on his neck.
Canterbury said yesterday Pleasants-Tate had had a recurrence of a neck injury he sustained during the 2016 Super Rugby campaign, which had not settled with conservative management.
He had been seen by a specialist who recommended surgery, meaning Pleasants-Tate would be unavailable for the remainder of the Mitre 10 Cup. Where that puts him for next year’s Super Rugby campaign is up in the air.
The hooker has been around the fringes of the team, ranked behind Liam Coltman and co-captain Ash Dixon and this latest injury may result in the Highlanders looking elsewhere for another hooker option.
Young Southland hooker Flynn Thomas has trained with the side for the past two years and may be seen as the next cab off the rank. But he is out for the next four weeks because of a shoulder injury. After that, a decision will be made on whether Thomas, a New Zealand Colt this year, needs surgery which will put him off the field for a considerable length of time.
Gone for next year already is prop Aki Seiuli, who badly injured his knee for Otago earlier this month, damaging all the ligaments in his knee. He had an operation on his knee in Christchurch about a week after the incident on September 7. He is unlikely to be seen next year for the Highlanders.
Tighthead prop Siate Tokolahi had an operation on his knee in July and is going through rehabilitation with hope he will be right for next season. Kalolo Tuiloma has missed the past couple of games for Counties-Manukau because of an unspecified injury.
With the underused Guy Millar now playing in France, there are spots available in the Highlanders front row.
Meanwhile there is speculation Marty Banks will come back to the Highlanders for a third stint.
The former Tasman first five-eighth is playing for a club side in Japan which is in the midst of its season. But the Japanese season finishes by Christmas and Banks may have some time on his hands. There was thought to be some contractual difficulties with the Highlanders and Japanese club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes but these may be close to being ironed out.
With the World Cup in Japan next year, no Japan Top League will be played at the end of 2019.
Banks has played 32 games for the Highlanders. He played in 2015-16 and was then whistled back into the side as an injury replacement early in 2017. Playing in 32 games, he left to play in Italy after the 2017 season, where he lasted just one season.