All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino have been all but ruled out of Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park.
Nonu (shoulder) and Kaino (elbow) had scans yesterday, and while the results were not available to the media today, assistant coach Ian Foster said their pair were "highly unlikely" to play the Wallabies.
"They didn't do any training today," he said. "We put them in cotton wool, really. We'll know more tomorrow but the signs are looking that they won't be playing on Saturday."
Either Ryan Crotty or Malakai Fekitoa will wear the No12 jersey inside the returning Conrad Smith in Nonu's absence, while Liam Messam is likely to get the nod over Steven Luatua in Kaino's No6 jersey.
Foster said both Crotty and Fekitoa were ready to step into the breach to partner an upbeat Smith following the recent birth of his son.
"He's a very happy man. It's obviously been a special time for him. Whilst he hated leaving his team it was the right thing to do and it's been fantastic that he was with Lee-Ann for the birth. He's come back and he's jumping out of his skin. He was going through and learning everything today so he'll be ready to go."
Foster added of another midfield re-shuffle: "We won't change the way we play. We have players preparing well, both Malakai and Ryan are preparing well at No12 and at No13, they know the job description. They've got both the mindset and skill set to deliver that. It's going to be a challenge for any player but we have confidence in both of them."