All Black midfielder Tamati Ellison will miss the bulk of the Highlanders Super Rugby campaign as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.
The 29-year-old first injured his shoulder playing for Otago during last year's NPC, and underwent surgery after returning from the All Blacks end-of-season tour when a scan revealed a dislocation and a break at the top of the shoulder bone.
Ellison's loss will be a major blow to the Highlanders, but he may yet still play for the southern franchise if they make it through to the play-offs.
With midfield options including Ma'a Nonu, Shaun Treeby, Phil Burleigh and Jason Emery in the squad the Highlanders will not look to replace Ellison.
Rookie winger Declan O'Donnell will also miss most of the season with a shoulder injury and the Highlanders are likely to look for a replacement outside back.
- Fairfax Media
Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?