The Highlanders will be without first-five Colin Slade for the first month of the Super Rugby competition after he had an operation on a broken jaw.
Slade, who has made one appearance for the All Blacks, suffered the injury in Saturday's pre-season match against the Blues and he was replaced during the second quarter by Lima Sapoaga.
Highlanders manager Leicester Rutledge says Slade is expected to be out of action for six to eight weeks.
The Highlanders' first match is against the Hurricanes in Wellington on February 18th.
Slade moved from the Crusaders to the Highlanders this year to get more game time at first five.