Despite the sight of Tony Woodcock kitted out for All Blacks training this week, Steve Hansen admits he may need surgery.
The veteran prop is struggling with a shoulder injury and may opt for an operation to fix the problem with next year's Rugby World Cup in mind.
"His shoulder is pretty loose, so we'll see what happens over the next seven days, then make a decision from there," Hansen told Stuff.
''There's no point mucking around - if it's not going to be right we might as well get it operated on. He'll get his first pre-season of note for 12 years, so there are some positives in it."
Adding that it was likely that Woodcock would indeed undergo surgery, Hansen thinks the break could actually benefit Woodcock going forward into next year.
"Whenever you get something that's disappointing, you've got to look for the positives," added Hansen.
"The positives are he'll get six or seven months before he has to play again. When you've been on the circuit as long as he has, that's valuable time.
"We'll fresh him up and get a revitalised Tony Woodcock [back]. The last test he played was pretty special, so if we can get some of that again that will be great."
Crusaders prop Joe Moody is likely to feature more prominently for the All Blacks in Woodcock's absence.
He starts on the bench for Saturday's Super Rugby Final behind the frontrunner for the loosehead spot, Wyatt Crockett.