Absent for a fortnight due to parental leave, now All Blacks first-five Dan Carter faces another three weeks on the sidelines after straining a hamstring in training with the Crusaders.
Carter had joined the Crusaders in Perth ahead of Saturday's match against the Force after missing his team's last two matches in South Africa - a victory over the Stormers and defeat to the Sharks - but has been forced to travel back to Christchurch to rehabilitate his injury.
It is a blow for the Crusaders, who have dropped to fourth on the New Zealand conference table and are desperate for competition points to haul themselves up the standings. The Crusaders are eighth overall, five points behind the fourth-placed Reds, who face the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
Tyler Bleyendaal, excellent against the Stormers but not as assured against the Sharks in Durban, will again wear the No10 jersey for the Crusaders.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is likely to be casting a wary eye in the direction of Carter, someone he has described as a ``red-flag player'' due to his increasing injuries, with the first of three tests against France only eight weeks away. Carter had hamstring and calf problems last year after his catastrophic groin injury during the 2011 World Cup.
With Tom Taylor still nursing a knee injury, wider training group player Kieron Fonotia, a centre, is travelling to Perth as back-up, coach Todd Blackadder said. Halfback Andy Ellis and second-five Ryan Crotty have the ability to play first-five if Bleyendaal is injured.
One piece of good news for Blackadder is the fact hooker Corey Flynn will be fit to play after he withdrew from the Sharks match because of a scratched eye.
Blackadder would have targeted the Force match, and matches to follow at home against the Highlanders and Rebels as potential bonus point victories, but Carter's absence puts a new complexion on things.
His game sense and calm authority, not to mention goalkicking, would have been invaluable as the Crusaders look to put their season back on track. Bleyendaal kicked four from eight last weekend, which included a missed penalty within easy range.
No8 Kieran Read remains unavailable due to a toe injury.