Cape Town - The Highlanders have suffered a massive blow ahead of their two-match South African Super Rugby tour with confirmation that star fullback Ben Smith will miss the flight due to an ankle injury.
Smith tweaked his ankle as early as the sixth minute of the Highlanders' thumping 57-14 victory over the Stormers in Dunedin on Friday.
Smith had his ankle strapped and manfully completed the match, but by Saturday he was wearing a moon boot.
As a result, Smith will miss the matches against the Cheetahs (Friday, May 5 at 19:00) and the Bulls (Saturday, May 13 at 15:05).
Smith could rejoin his team-mates for their third and final tour match against the Force in Perth on Saturday, May 20 (11:45 SA time).
In better news for the 2015 champions, loose forward Elliot Dixon will travel to South Africa after missing the Highlanders' last two matches with an infected knee.
Despite their impressive win over the Stormers, the Highlanders are only fourth in the high-competitive New Zealand Conference.