Rene Ranger, who will see a surgeon tomorrow about his season-ending injured knee ligament, has spoken of his disappointment for himself and also North Harbour, the province he signed with last year but won't play for until next year at the earliest.
The Blues midfielder ruptured the ACL in his left knee in his team's 23-18 victory over the Sharks at Eden Park and is facing a long and mentally tough lay-off after recovering from neck surgery last year.
That operation ruled him out for North Harbour after his return from club rugby in France, and his latest surgery will end all chance of him playing for them this year. His next involvement in the game is likely to be in next year's Super Rugby pre-season, but he vowed to help Steve Jackson's Harbour team off the field, if they would allow it.
"I'm gutted for them, especially after what happened last year," Ranger said.
Not surprisingly, North Harbour trumpeted the signing of Northlander Ranger last year after his return from Montpellier, but he could only watch as they finished fifth of seven teams in the Championship.
After his surgery Ranger will turn his attention to rehabilitating his injury, but also the future in general. He said he would apply for a heavy vehicle driver's licence as he was interested in farming.
"I have to keep my mind active," said Ranger, who didn't think the injury was that serious at first. The 29-year-old was hoping for the best, but the Blues medical staff diagnosed the injury the day after the match and it was confirmed by a scan on Monday.
"It's not great," Blues coach Tana Umaga said. "He missed a lot of rugby even before coming here. When he got here he still had issues - he's found it hard to find his footing again back in New Zealand in Super Rugby and I thought he was getting there and he did too. He's obviously frustrated now, but this is all part of the game."
Umaga has been a witness to several ACL injuries this year, with wings TJ Faiane, Ben Lam, and now Ranger struck down by the problem. He said a plan would be put in place for Ranger once he recovered from the operation.
"In the first week or two you have to wait for operations and things and there's not much you can do. They feel a bit like a spare part and for us we make sure we give their time to think about where they're going to go and accept the predicament they're in."
Umaga said bringing a player in to replace Ranger was an option, but he would probably stick with his current midfield stocks of George Moala, Piers Francis, Male Sa'u, Michael Little and Matt Vaega.
He said the return of outside back Rieko Ioane and his loose forward brother Akira to the New Zealand sevens team was a done deal and that they would play their last match for the Blues a week on Saturday against the Rebels at Eden Park after this weekend's bye.
Rieko, 19, said he had no regrets about making sevens a priority in this Olympic year despite his excellent form during his four matches for the Blues.
"I was hoping just to get at least one game for the Blues before I went back to the sevens so with the amount of game time I've got so far I'm pretty happy with where I'm at the moment," Rieko said. "Everything is falling into place and I hope that continues."