All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is facing two months on the sidelines after breaking a thumb in the Crusaders' loss to the Blues on Friday.
An x-ray has confirmed the break, suffered in the first half of the 35-24 Super Rugby defeat in Auckland.
A Crusaders spokesman said medical advice was that the usual recovery time for such an injury was up to eight weeks, meaning McCaw is unlikely to play any rugby until late April.
Players have, however, come back within six weeks in exceptional circumstances.
The 33-year-old missed the bulk of the 2013 Super Rugby season, while on a sabbatical.