AUCKLAND - The Highlanders will have to make do without All Black Tamati Ellison for most of the Super Rugby season.
Ellison is recovering from pre-Christmas shoulder surgery and is expected to be out for up to six months.
The 29-year-old midfield back tweeted that he had a four-hour operation on December 20.
Ellison originally hurt the shoulder in late October in Otago's defeat to Counties Manukau in a national provincial championship match.
He was confident the shoulder would improve and went on the All Blacks' end-of-year tour, gaining his fourth cap in the 51-22 win over Scotland before being sidelined by a toe problem.
Also unavailable when the Highlanders begin their season will be winger Declan O'Donnell, also because of a shoulder complaint.