Super Rugby champions Highlanders lose Naholo and Takana

Wellington (AFP) - Defending Super Rugby champions the Otago Highlanders suffered a double blow on Tuesday with confirmation international backline stars Waisake Naholo and Fumiaki Tanaka both face extended periods out injured.

The Dunedin-based club said All Blacks winger Naholo fractured his leg in the 33-31 opening round loss to the Auckland Blues on Friday and would be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

It added that Tanaka, half-back with the Japan national side, injured his calf at training, putting him out for four weeks.

Team doctor Greg Macleod said Naholo had suffered a new fracture in the same leg that he injured before last year's Rugby World Cup.

"While this is very unfortunate for Waisake, the positive news is that this injury is not as bad as his last fracture," he said.

The previous break was initially expected to rule Naholo out of the World Cup but he returned to his birthplace Fiji and sought out a traditional healer.

The unorthodox treatment, comprising an application made from a special leaf applied to the leg, appeared to work and Naholo was part of the squad that won the trophy at Twickenham.

The Highlanders said the winger would not be going to Fiji for another dose of traditional medicine and Macleod would oversee his recovery.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph was philosophical about the injuries.

"To lose players for an extended period is always disappointing but you have to expect injuries to occur at some point," he said.

"As a group we simply deal with it and move on."

The Highlanders face the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday in a repeat of last year's title decider.