New Zealand's World Cup preparations have been hit with a big blow.
Their prolific and versatile fullback Damian McKenzie has been ruled out for the tournament in Japan later this year after confirmation he's ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
McKenzie suffered the injury to his right knee while playing Super Rugby for the Chiefs last weekend, limping out of their 33-29 win against the Blues early in the second half, having earlier kicked two conversions.
The 23-year-old has now been sidelined for up to 9 months, according to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) April 15, 2019
"Yeah he's he's done an ACL, so looks like he could be out for eight to nine months, which is a real shame for him," Hansen said.
"His World Cup opportunity is gone. He'll still be young enough to make probably the next two.
"It's just important that he gets his knee right and takes his time to come back and achieve the dreams that he wants to achieve.
"Our task is finding someone else to fill his role and his task is getting the knee right to be able to play the game," Hansen said.
The task to replace McKenzie could prove tricky. Since making his debut in 2016, McKenzie has scored 12 tries in his 23 test appearances, and while his best performances have come at full back, he was a viable cover option at outhalf, behind Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga.
Hensen will now have to look elsewhere for his third choice 10, with Brett Cameron of the Crusaders and veteran Stephen Donald the only outhalves currently playing for a New Zealand franchise with test experience.
McKenzie is the latest high-profile name to be ruled out of the game's showpiece event in Japan later this year. Two weeks ago Ireland lost Dan Leavy to a significant knee injury, after Leinster's Heineken Champions Cup quarter final win against Ulster.