Digby Ioane ruled out for Reds

Getty Images     27 Mar 2013     Getty Images

Ioane suffered bone bruising in Saturday's narrow win over the Bulls and is expected to recover in time to face the Chiefs following next week's bye.

"We have the benefit of the bye next week so we don't want to take any risks," coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"We'll be aggressive with (his) treatment in the next fortnight and hope to see (him back) for the Chiefs."

Fellow winger Chris Feauai-Sautia will also miss the Highlanders clash with a thigh strain, with Luke Morahan and Dom Shipperley forming a new-look wing combination.

Hooker Saia Faingaa (neck), halfback Nick Frisby (ankle) and utility Mike Harris (hand) are also unavailable for selection.

It's not all bad news on the injury front for the Reds, with openside flanker Liam Gill returning from a one-week layoff with a knee injury, while lock Rob Simmons is the other new face in the starting line-up.

McKenzie is confident the Reds can overcome their growing injury toll in Dunedin, despite having never beaten the Highlanders on New Zealand soil.

"We've always had the mentality of backing the next guy in line and there is no reason not to be positive or excited about our prospects against the Highlanders," McKenzie said.

"We aren't in a situation we've never dealt with before and there have been plenty of games where we’ve faced challenging circumstances but still come out on top.

"Two games that really stick in my mind are wins against the Chiefs in my first two seasons here, where we battled injuries but still travelled to New Zealand and got a result.

"The attitudinal pieces from the group were of a high standard in the lead-up to those games and we'll be expecting exactly the same this week.

"We also have guys like Rod Davies and Ben Daley who have been itching for an opportunity, and now that their injuries are behind them, they get one."