All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown needs shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for six months.
Lienert-Brown was forced from the FMG Stadium Waikato pitch early in the Chiefs’ 25-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday and confirmed the extent of the problem in a post on Instagram on Monday night.
“Shoulder is going to need a bit more work than I was hoping,” Lienert-Brown wrote.
“Going under the knife this week which will put me out for 6 months. A bump in the road but the journey continues. I’ll be back ... appreciate all the support”.
Lienert-Brown injured the same shoulder when the All Blacks played Ireland on last year’s November tour.
Elbow surgery had already seen him miss last year’s first two tests against Tonga and Fiji.
His absence from at least the three July tests against Ireland in New Zealand will leave All Blacks head coach Ian Foster with plenty to think about in terms of his midfield combinations, which have been in a near constant state of flux during his tenure.
Crusader Jack Goodhue returned from a long-term knee injury to play club rugby at the weekend, with Braydon Ennor also back from injury at the Crusaders and Rieko Ioane playing well for the Blues.
Jordie Barrett, usually a fullback, is currently playing in the Hurricanes midfield and did well against the Crusaders at the weekend, while another converted fullback, Crusader David Havili, also has claims.
Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea developed well last year but the big winner may be former Warrior Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, currently injured at the Blues but likely to be included in an extended All Blacks squad this year.