The Highlanders have suffered a significant loss in their forward pack with All Blacks hopeful Josh Dickson out for the rest of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The Highlanders have revealed Dickson broke his fibula in the 40-20 loss to the Crusaders over the weekend, sidelining the in-form lock for four months.
“He broke his leg, so we’ve brought Geoff Cridge into the squad to cover that,” Highlanders skills coach Riki Flutey said this afternoon.
The 25-year-old had been in impressive form throughout the first four rounds of the domestic competition, leading Super Rugby Aotearoa in lineouts won before going down on Saturday.
“Josh has been outstanding, and he’s been leading off the field,” Flutey said.
“He’s been running our forwards, and on the field he’s been playing really well.”
With New Zealand’s locking department lacking depth, many critics believed Dickson was playing his way into selection discussions for next month’s North v South fixture, which is being viewed as a de-facto All Blacks trial.
But with the 25-year-old stretchered off the field after 16 minutes on Saturday, those discussions go out the window for the time being.
Instead, attention will turn to Pari Pari Parkinson to build on the promising start to his young career with Jack Whetton, Manaaki Selby-Ricki, and Cridge as his potential locking partners.
“Manaaki’s a young guy who has been showing some really good signs during training,” Flutey said.
Dickson joins a growing injury ward in the deep south with Nehe Milner-Skudder still unavailable due to an ongoing shoulder issue and first-five Josh Ioane also in doubt due with a groin injury.
Ngatungane Punivai will also likely miss Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion against the Crusaders.
The Highlanders face the Hurricanes in the capital on Sunday.