Chiefs flanker Mitch Karpik will miss the Super Rugby season after suffering a knee injury in their pre-season game against the Waratahs.
The 20-year-old ruptured his ACL ligaments during the Chiefs 17-12 victory on Friday in Rotorua and is expected to be out for six to nine months.
"I'm choosing to see it as a bump in the road and will take the opportunity to mature my body and get ready for what will hopefully be a long career ahead of me," Karpick told stuff.co.nz.
"I'll also have a bit more time to put towards my university studies and I will of course continue to support the team from the sidelines."
"I'm obviously really disappointed as I was really looking forward to playing for the Chiefs this year."
Chiefs Head Coach Dave Rennie lauded the flanker's imposing debut.
"His debut in the Chiefs jersey in Friday's game was impressive and further reinforced the hugely promising future he has ahead of him," said Rennie.
"He has a great deal of maturity and an excellent work ethic which will serve him well as he overcomes his knee injury.
"We will certainly miss him in a training and playing capacity this season but we're pleased he'll still be very much a part of the team as he undergoes his rehabilitation under the expert guidance of our medical team."
The Chiefs have already racked up a lengthy injury list with Crusaders recruits Nepo Laulala (knee, season) and Dominic Bird (foot, seven weeks) also sidelined.
Loose forward Maama Vaipulu will be reassessed later this week after he took a knock to his shoulder during the game.
The Waikato-based team are also without All Blacks Sevens scrum-half Augustine Pulu (broken arm, 8-10 weeks) and will start the season without Japan captain Michael Leitch who has not had a break from rugby since the 2015 Super Rugby season due to Rugby World Cup and Top League commitments.