Veteran All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will miss the world champions' third test against England in Hamilton on Saturday due to a broken thumb.
The injury, sustained during last weekend's second test at Dunedin, may rule the 77-test veteran out of rugby for up to six weeks and could also mean the end of his Super Rugby campaign.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he will decide later this week whether Malakai Fekitoa or Ryan Crotty will start at outside centre in Smith's place.
If New Zealand chooses Fekitoa it will be his first Test start.
New Zealand clinched the three-test series 2-0 after winning the first test 20-15 and the second 28-27.