Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava is out of rugby for the rest of the year after sustaining a knee injury on Friday night against the Crusaders.
Following imaging tests yesterday it was confirmed he has a full tear of the ACL in his right knee.
The injury will require an operation and a rehabilitation period of 9-12 months before he returns to play.
Highlanders head coach Tony Brown said it was a major blow for the team and for Fakatava, who has been one of the side's best players this season.
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"This is very tough on Folau. He's been playing outstanding rugby for us this season and he must have been in consideration for the All Blacks with his performances in Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa and the Mitre 10 Cup.
"We are fortunate that we have an excellent replacement in Kayne Hammington who has been training hard for an opportunity, he is very experienced and knows our game well."
Otago halfback James Arscott has been bought in as a replacement for Fakatava.
The injury list has grown over the last few weeks for the Highlanders with Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Freedom Vahaakolo both ruled out for the season.
They have been replaced permanently in the squad by Otago midfielder Josh Timu and Southland utility back Josh Moorby.