James Mortimer 23.Feb.2013Getty Images
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph confirmed that number eight Nasi Manu's ankle injury is worse than originally thought.
"It looks like he has a broken foot or ankle, which is a major blow to him and the team," Joseph said.
"He was in great shape and had been training very well."
If Manu is ruled out for the campaign it will be a blow, but the men from the Deep South will welcome back some big names in the coming weeks.
Captain Andrew Hore is due to return from suspension after next week's bye, while former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn is expected to play.
Thorn suffered a minor calf injury during the preseason and sat out last night's match.
With the Cheetahs the next opponent for the Highlanders at Invercargill, Thorn will set a new Super Rugby record as the oldest player ever to be involved in the tournament.