Blues loose forward Steven Luatua could be the third All Black to be sidelined for the Rugby World Cup in England later this year.
With fly-half Aaron Cruden (knee) and lock Patrick Tuipulotu (hip) already ruled out of World Cup through injury, Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan revealed that Luatua could join the casualty list as he may need surgery on a shoulder injury.
The 24-year-old dislocated his shoulder during the Blues' win over the Bulls at Eden Park on 15 May.
"He'll possibly need an operation on his shoulder," Kirwan told Fairfax Media.
"He could be out until next season. He could force his way back for fitness, but it would be at the limits of getting an operation and recovery."
A specialist will make the final recommendation and Luatua should make his decision regarding the operation by next week. Going under the knife appears to be the best option for Luatua's long-term future as he risks adding more damage to the shoulder by attempting to play while it's still injured.
Earlier this week Luatua's Blues team-mate Patrick Tuipulotu opted for surgery on a developmental defect with his hips that will sideline him for the rest of the year and Cruden tore his torn his anterior cruciate ligament in the Chiefs' win over the Crusaders in Christchurch on on 17 April.
"It's difficult for some of these young guys," added Kirwan.
"They need to make some big decisions. You've seen Patrick make a tough decision.
"If they don't do it his shoulder could pop out at any time. For someone like Steven and Patrick, they've got 15-year careers ahead of them. He's got to make sure he looks after himself and gets himself right but it's a big decision, especially in World Cup year.
"Steven is waiting for the last specialist to look at it. The hardest thing for them is the World Cup. They're all good, young men who are in or around All Blacks selection so it's been a difficult time for them, making decisions.
"I've been really proud of the way they've handled it because it's been pretty disappointing.
"They'll get fixed up and be ready to go next year. They're young enough to play for us next year and go on to play the [British and Irish] Lions [in 2017] and World Cup . That's what they need to think of."