Popoali'i out for season
Highlanders wing Buxton Popoali'i has withdrawn from Super Rugby 2014 to focus on recovering from surgery planned for later this February.
The 24-year-old, who made his debut on the wing against the Chiefs in 2012, has asked for privacy after tests revealed he must have an operation.
"Buxton has a long-standing heart condition. Recent routine tests have determined he needs further surgery, which he will undergo this month. Buxton will take a break from all rugby this year to focus on his recovery," said Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark in a statement.
"While we, and Buxton himself, are devastated at this news, it is clear that he needs to focus entirely on his own health and well-being. Buxton is currently feeling and doing well and our medical staff are managing his care. Buxton is a very popular member of the Highlanders and we are all supporting him through what is a very difficult time."