The Highlanders will have to do without midfield back Matt Saunders for their Super 15 rugby match against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday morning (NZT).
He is returning home early after the sudden death of his father on Tuesday.
"At this sad time our thoughts are with Matt and the Saunders family," Highlanders general manager Roger Clark said today.
As a mark of respect the Highlanders will wear black armbands during the game.
Saunders is expected back in New Zealand tomorrow.
The Highlanders have made a bold start to their season, with three successive wins, including a huge upset over the Bulls last weekend, leaving them as the only unbeaten New Zealand team.
Highlanders team: Ben Smith, James Paterson, Kendrick Lynn, Shaun Treeby, Siale Piutau, Robbie Robinson, Jimmy Cowan, Nasi Manu, Alando Soakai, Adam Thomson, Josh Bekhuis,
Jarrad Hoeata, Chris King, Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh.
Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Bronson Murray, Tom Donnelly, John Hardie, Aaron Smith, Tony Brown, Telusa Veainu.