Fans worldwide have lent their support to Highlanders captain James Lentjes after he suffered a gruesome leg injury during his side’s 28-22 defeat to the Rebels in Dunedin on Friday.

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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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“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.

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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.

The flailing Dunedin franchise will now travel to South Africa and Argentina for a two-match tour where they will face the Bulls and Jaguares.

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