The Highlanders have turned to Japan to solve their back-row problems by signing former Crusaders number eight Mose Tuiali'i.
According to the Otago Daily Times, Tuali'i is to be a direct replacement for Nasi Manu, who is set to miss the rest of the tournament after sustaining a serious foot injury in the Dunedin-based side's opening round defeat to the Chiefs.
32-year-old Tuiali'i, who played nine Tests for the All Blacks between 2004 and 2006, has been plying his trade in Japan for Yamaha Jubilo since 2008.
He will bolster the Highlanders' ball-carrying options in their bid to to break a five-match losing streak.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has played Jake Paringatai and Elliot Dixon at number eight since Manu's injury.
Tuiali'i joins Paringatai, Brad Thorn, Neil Brew and Tamati Ellsion who have all signed with the Highlanders after stints with Japanese clubs.
Meanwhile, All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock is unlikely to play against the Blues in Auckland on Friday due to a hamstring injury sustained in the 34-33 defeat to the Reds last weekend.
Joseph revealed, however, that Ellison could return sooner than expected from a shoulder injury. The All Blacks centre has been sidelined after going under the knife in December.
"He's showing some really positive signs and made a couple of tackles today," said Joseph.
"He wasn't supposed to be back until June but I'd say he'll be back in the next few weeks, which is a good thing."