Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has been forced to delay the announcement of his team, for the Super Rugby season opener against the Chiefs, because of a lengthy casualty list.
Joseph said the team to play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday will not be named until Friday, due to "final fitness testing of injured players".
Several Highlanders, including tighthead props Chris King and Ma'afu Fia, remain in doubt because of injury.
Several other players, including All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade, who is recovering from a hernia operation, remain unavailable.
Joseph said it's annoying to not be able to start the year on the front foot.
Joseph said momentum is important, but it is just as important to look at the whole year.
"I know last year if had won the three last games, we would have made the play-offs. So it is a wee bit of a catch-22," Joseph told the Otago Daily Times.
"What I know in sport, if you get on a roll you get a confidence that is unfounded. Teams, though, that win the championships have to come back from real challenges. If we are going to be any good at the end of the year we are going to have to keep getting up.
"I think when the team trains so hard for such a long time they look forward to the first game. In three weeks' time we will be right into the season and the season goes until August, so you need to look at the big picture.
"The thing with us we have been hampered with injuries and it has been disrupting. But guys really want to play rugby."
Joseph has brought in some fresh artillery this season and the likes of hooker Andrew Hore and wing Hosea Gear will be key for a team which suffered at the end of last year because of a lack of firepower.
Gear is a key, as the side struggled to get to the tryline last season.
But the team, especially the backline, is undoubtedly handicapped with injuries to key players such as Shaun Treeby, Colin Slade and Kade Poki.
Japanese based players James Haskell and Tamati Ellison were due to get on a plane last this week to head to Dunedin, but it will be too late for Saturday's game against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
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