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Smith out for a month

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All Blacks star suffers significant injury blow

All Blacks and Highlanders star halfback Aaron Smith has been ruled out of action for four to six weeks due to an ankle injury.

The 30-year-old sustained the injury late in the Highlanders’ 33-26 defeat to the Blues in Auckland last weekend.

The loss of the 82-test veteran comes at a difficult time in the season for the Dunedin-based franchise.

The club have not won a match since their tight 36-31 win over the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium over a month ago, and have endured three consecutive away losses to the Rebels, Hurricanes and Blues.

A chance to overturn their dismal run of form against the Crusaders in a home derby two weeks ago was robbed as the match was cancelled due to the Christchurch terror attacks.

Both teams shared two competition points in a result that has been officially registered as a 0-0 draw, but a lack of wins leaves the Highlanders outside of a play-offs position, sitting in ninth place with 13 points to their name.

They are on par with the seventh-placed Bulls and eighth-placed Rebels in terms of competition points, but their negative points difference is denying them a spot in the top eight.

Smith’s absence for at least the next month will not help the Highlanders’ bid for victory, particularly with a run of four New Zealand derbies in their next five matches.

Back-up halfbacks Kayne Hammington and teenager Folau Fakatava will be called upon to fill the void left by Smith, while former Crusaders halfback Jack Stratton has been drafted into the squad as an injury replacement.

The Highlanders have the bye this week before they host the Hurricanes next Friday.

Watch – Raelene Castle on Sunwolves axing:

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All Blacks star suffers significant injury blow