Crusaders skipper Scott Barrett will miss the rest of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season with a foot injury.
Barrett was ruled out of last weekend's round two match against the Hurricanes after suffering a "significant injury to the structures supporting his big toe" in an intraclub match on June 13.
On Wednesday, the Crusaders confirmed Barrett would require surgery for the issue, ending his involvement in Super Rugby Aotearoa before it even began.
Hooker Codie Taylor will take over the captaincy from Barrett permanently after stepping up in the role last weekend.
Barrett's news follows some other unfortunate injuries for Kiwi players this week as the Aotearoa competition heads into its third round.
Luckless Chiefs backrower Luke Jacobson's season was ended earlier this week after fracturing his hand.
Jacobson was sent home from last year's World Cup because of ongoing concussion issues and battled hamstring issues when he returned to Super Rugby this season.
Blues loose forward Tom Robinson has also been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after tearing his meniscus last weekend.
"He's such a great kid in our environment. He's our energy bloke – if there's a yahoo to be had it'll come from Tom so we all feel for him being cut down in his stride," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said earlier this week of the injury.
Super Rugby Aotearoa round three kicks off on Saturday June 27 with the Blues and Highlanders facing off at 5:05pm and the Crusaders and Chiefs meeting up on Sunday at 1:35pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy a Kayo subscription here.