New Zealand have suffered a major blow ahead of Saturday's Bledisloe Cup opener against Australia in Sydney with star fly-half Dan Carter ruled out for four weeks with a calf injury.
Carter complained of tightness during Monday's training run in Wellington and has now been diagnosed with a calf strain which is expected to keep him out of the Tests against the Wallabies in Sydney and Wellington.
"The length of time is because it's a recurrence and you don't want it to recur because then it becomes a major problem," coach Steven Hansen said.
"We'll deal with and get on with it and hopefully he'll be back later on in the competition."
In-form Chiefs number 10 Aaron Cruden is expected to take Carter's place in the starting side when the squad is named on Thursday morning, with Beauden Barrett likely to be added to the bench.
"We've been here before and [Carter] will go away and work on what he's got to do and Aaron and Beauden will step into the breach and do what they have to do," said Hansen.
"We are really fortunate that we've got more than one world-class five-eighth. Aaron has been on top of his game all season. He's just gone through two major matches with a lot of intensity and pressure."
The injury caps a wretched run for Carter, who missed the All Blacks' first two Tests against France in June with a broken hand, while a groin injury robbed him of his place in the 2011 World Cup squad.
Carter recently announced he is to take a break from the sport during the next Super Rugby season.