The New Zealand Rugby Union has refused permission for the Chiefs to recruit an overseas-based player to alleviate a back-line injury crisis.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the Chiefs sought permission to sign Casey Laulala from Munster after injuries sidelined centers Andrew Horrell, Tim Nanai-Williams and All Blacks Richard Kahui.
Horrell may miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, Nanai-Williams was discharged from hospital last week after treatment for a stomach ulcer, and Kahui has a career-threatening shoulder injury.
The Chiefs' shortage of fit backs became more serious when full-back Gareth Anscombe broke a toe.
It is understood that Munster boss Rob Penney gave permission for Laulala - who played for the Crusaders from 2004 to 2009 and represented the All Blacks in two Tests in 2006 - to move back to New Zealand on a short-term loan, but it was knocked back by the NZRU.
Coach Dave Rennie said the Chiefs asked permission to call in an overseas player but were refused "because there are apparently some rules around time frames."