Lentjes was left writhing in agony after breaking his leg from an awkward ruck clean out in the 29th minute of the match, with his left foot and ankle bent badly out of shape.
The 29-year-old was promptly taken to Dunedin Hospital, and Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger expected the injury to keep his squad’s skipper sidelined for the remainder of the Super Rugby campaign.
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WARNING: Video contains graphic content
— RUGBYcomau (@rugbycomau) February 28, 2020
“Jimmy’s broken so I imagine it will be a season [ending injury],” Mauger told reporters post-match.
“They took him off to hospital. They had him here for about 15 minutes just trying to settle him and then off to hospital.
“Jimmy’s been outstanding all throughout pre-season, he’s led our game really well over the last four games, including tonight, so we’re really gutted for him.
“He’s had some pretty bad luck over the years with injuries. The lads are devastated for him.”
Highlanders halfback and vice-captain Aaron Smith echoed his coach’s sentiments, labelling Lentjes’ injury as “horrific”.
“My prayers are with him. He’s our spiritual leader, he’s everything a Highlander man is and we’re thinking of him,” Smith said.
“I hope he’s alright right now. I hope he’ll have the best medical staff. You don’t play rugby to see that sort of stuff.”
Support for Lentjes has extended beyond the Highlanders camp, with punters from around the globe offering their condolences and well-wishes for the injury-stricken loose forward.
James Lentjes was just convulsing and thrashing around on the ground and that is without doubt the scariest thing I've ever seen at live sport. Hope it's not as bad as I think it will be. #HIGvREB
— Mark Currie (@MarkCurrieNZ) February 28, 2020
— I Know Him ? (@carlsontinashe) February 28, 2020
— Nick Turnbull (@ArgyleSport) February 28, 2020
— L?? D?VIDS? (@lee_davidse) February 28, 2020
— RubaDubDub (@BrendonWessels) February 28, 2020
James Lentjes ??? cruel #HIGvREB
— Lloyd Jones (@LloydJones1882) February 28, 2020
That James Lentjes injury is absolutely brutal! Poor bastard #SuperRugby
— Luke Robinson (@whakataneluke) February 28, 2020
— tryscorers (@Tryscorers) February 28, 2020
Horrific injury to James Lentjes. Praying for a speedy recovery. #HIGvREB
— Brian Kolia (@BKolia) February 28, 2020
Nasty and an unfortunate injury for James Lentjes. Praying for a quick recovery #HIGvREB
— asdf:lkj (@nabwela) February 28, 2020
Lentjes’ injury compounds frustrations for the Highlanders, who now lie in 13th place and are rooted to the bottom of the New Zealand conference with just one win from their opening four outings.
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