Crusaders captain Scott Barrett could be out of action for up to four months after undergoing foot surgery, his coach Scott Robertson said on Thursday.
Robertson said it would be about 12-16 weeks before Barrett would be able to play again, which could also affect his chances of playing for the All Blacks if tests are arranged later this year.
Travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 mean the international schedule is still in doubt, though reports in New Zealand and Australia have suggested a Bledisloe Cup series could be played in October.
Robertson also told reporters ahead of their 'Super Rugby Aotearoa' clash with the Highlanders that promising loose forward Cullen Grace would be out of action for up to two months following surgery to fix a broken thumb.
Robertson's side have won their first two games of the 10-week competition involving New Zealand's Super Rugby teams and can overtake the unbeaten Blues at the top of the table with a win. The Blues have the bye this week.
Robertson said the decision to make five changes for the clash with the Highlanders was aimed at keeping the side fresh.
"We wanted to make sure that we could give the majority of our squad, or as many as we could, game time," he said.