The Sharks will be without Springboks five-eighth Patrick Lambie for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Hurricanes on Saturday after failing in a bid to gain dispensation from SANZAAR.
The South African side have suffered from the same rule as the Chiefs, who have lost the services All Blacks flanker Liam Messam for the playoffs.
Lambie was deemed ineligible because he had played only three games in an injury-plagued season.
Competition rules state he must have played in four or been in the squad before April 1 to be eligible.
A Sharks appeal failed as SANZAAR deemed they had sufficient depth in the position.
In better news, Springboks fullback Willie le Roux is poised to play for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the final Test against Ireland in June.
Prop Tendai Mtawarira and centre Paul Jordaan are reportedly also ready to return from injuries.
The Durban-based side will only arrive in Wellington on Thursday after failing to book an earlier flight.
The eighth-seeded Sharks must upset their top-qualified opponents to have any chance of ending an unenviable playoff history.
They are without a title despite reaching the knockout phase nine times, including four appearances in the final.