Wellington captain Brad Shields has been ruled out for the rest of the ITM Cup season after breaking his jaw against Otago.
The powerful number eight suffered the injury during the loss to Otago, and required surgery on Friday night, despite playing with the problem.
He now faces a month and a half on the sidelines, and will miss the remainder of the provincial season as a result.
His Hurricanes teammate Ardie Savea will take over the captaincy of the side, as the Lions look to return to the top flight after last season's surprise relegation.
"It's never an enjoyable feeling knowing you're out for a campaign, but I know Ardie will step in and lead the team well as we look to achieve that goal of getting back into the Premiership," Shields said in a statement.
"We've got a great bunch of guys this year and an awesome environment. We know what we need to do from this point on and I'll certainly be looking to pitch in wherever I can to help the boys get the job done."
Meanwhile Wellington coach Earl Va'a backed Savea to step up to the task, although he admitted losing Shields was a big blow.
He said: "We've lost a great leader and one of our most consistent players over the past few years, so we're all shattered for Brad. We've still got a job to do though, so we'll move on, get back out there and support Ardie as we look ahead to the remainder of the season."