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Setback for Liam Squire's return to play

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Monday, March 18, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

He had been back in full training with the side last week after recovering from a hip injury that had kept him out of all rugby this year but tore a medial ligament and would be out of consideration for eight to 10 weeks.

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Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said: "He would have been available for this week's game [against the Blues in Auckland]. It's a terrible blow for him. The guy has worked so hard to get to where he is but these things happen and unfortunately it has happened to a guy who has already had a bit of adversity this year."

Commenting on the cancellation of the side's game with the Crusaders last Saturday in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque tragedies, Mauger said when he first heard the news from his home town his heart sunk for the Muslim community, for New Zealand and for the world.

"It's been a lot to absorb and digest over the last couple of days," he said.

While it had been focused on Christchurch the issue involved was a global one, he said.

Regarding the cancellation of the game, Mauger said there had been bigger issues involved than rugby. Once the decision was made by Sanzaar to cancel the game the Highlanders' organisation had made sure the support was on hand for their players.

The Highlanders would be working with the Dunedin mosque during the week to show their support for the local community.
Highlanders' chief executive Roger Clark said the decision to cancel the Crusaders game had been the right decision, although the franchise stood to suffer a financial loss.

There was no insurance to cover the cancellation which had been made after consultation with a wide group of affected parties.

"The way Saturday panned out for all of us was something we had never been through before. We had worked out there were a lot of people that had to be consulted – a large number of stakeholders, including the young men who had to go out and play the game," he said.

One of the considerations had been security and that started on Friday night to ensure Forsyth Barr Stadium was right to stage the game.

"Consultation was held with national and local police at all stages – right up to 10.30am on Saturday morning from a police perspective, and they were happy for the game to go ahead," he said.

However, there was also consideration for the wider Muslim community and whether it was respectful to play rugby under the circumstances.

Ultimately, the decision had been made by the Sanzaar executive, New Zealand Rugby, the teams and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association.