The Highlanders are sweating over the fitness of All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa ahead of the Super Rugby Finals Series.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has confimred that the 23-year-old will miss this weekend's clash against the Blues in the final round of the regular season and there are doubts if he will be fit in time for the play-offs.
Fekitoa injured his groin against the Chiefs two weeks ago and Joseph said that the midfielders is still "a wee way off" a return.
"He's not running at the moment, we'll try to get him running today. Still a wee bit away actually so we just hope he can recover in time for the playoffs," said Joseph.
The Highlanders will nevertheless start as heavy favourites against the Blues, even though Joseph is wary of underestimating a side that that will be bidding farewell to a few players, including Keven Mealamu.
"We all know it's an important game, but it is one of four important games coming up for us. The team needs to get back on track. We need to perform, we need to prepare well for the playoffs," he said.
"Getting in a good performance against a Blues team which has nothing to lose is important – and they are playing for their skipper and a player that has put in a lot of service, so it's going to be a big one for us. There is a lot of respect there for those players because we have been there in that position in 2013.
"The boys are ready to preform up there."