All Blacks' Ben Smith could miss rest of Super Rugby season due to injury
Last Updated: 07/05/19 6:41am
New Zealand full-back Ben Smith could miss the rest of the Super Rugby regular season with a hamstring strain.
Smith suffered the injury in the Highlanders' 31-31 draw against the Chiefs last Saturday and will be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
"Just a classic rugby incident where he got caught in a tackle and overextended," said assistant coach Glenn Delaney.
"All the right things are being done and he'll be back as quick as he can be with the right rehab."
Smith's injury, sustained when he slipped in a heavy tackle, threw a scare through New Zealand, with All Blacks outside back Damian McKenzie having already been ruled out of the World Cup by a knee injury.
"Six to eight weeks, from how the injury looked, you could say that was very lucky," New Zealand and Highlanders scrum-half Aaron Smith said.
Third in the New Zealand Conference with six rounds remaining until the post-season, the Highlanders need a victory over the in-form Jaguares on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Action, to keep in touch with the playoff positions.
Smith, who has won 76 All Blacks caps, is playing his final season with the Highlanders before moving to Pau so he may never play for the Dunedin-based side again if they fail to make the playoffs.
There was some positive injury news for the Highlanders, with Delaney confirming flanker Liam Squire and wing Waisake Naholo have returned to training and are available for selection.
Battling hip and knee problems, Squire has not played since New Zealand's defeat to Ireland in November while Naholo has been out for a month with a knee ligament injury.
Delaney suggested both would be eased in gently if selected to face the Jaguares.
"[Squire's] full of energy and enthusiasm and doing all the right things and speaking well to the group," he said.
"He's just getting through day by day but the one thing we won't do with either of those guys is that they won't be back before we think they are ready.
"We'll look after them because it's important to us and obviously to some other teams as well."