A heartbroken Daniel Carter heard the news he and four million other people didn't want to hear this morning - that his World Cup is over.
The world's best first five has ripped his abductor longus tendon and will not feature again for the All Blacks in this campaign. The All Blacks have tried to be all stiff upper lip about the loss of their playmaker, upbeat about the potential of Colin Slade and Aarron Cruden who will join the squad, but have clearly been rocked by the news. Which is hardly surprising.
Carter was desperate to be the dominant figure in the knock-out rounds - the undisputed superpower of world rugby. The key driver in him choosing to sign a three-year contract in 2008 was to make amends for the disastrous campaign of 2007.
Carter hobbled off against France in the last World Cup - a damaged ankle preventing him from making the impact he wanted. This tournament was all about atonement -about steering an All Black team to victory on home soil.
It was going to be Carter's moment to shine and his performance against France last week was an indicator he was building nicely. At Eden Park he was magical - drifting past defenders and nudging the All Blacks into all the right areas of the field.
Today should have seen him step up again before bursting into full bloom in the games that matter most. Instead he's in agony - both physical and mental - and the World Cup not the same tournament without him. Such is Carter's class and standing that the World Cup needed him just as much as he needed it.
"We are all obviously devastated for Daniel," said All Black coach Graham Henry. "He has worked so hard to be at a peak for Rugby World Cup. We will rally around him and pull together as a team."