The Kiwis have suffered a significant blow ahead of the upcoming international season, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck being ruled out of contention.
The Warriors fullback won't be available for the test against the Kangaroos on October 13 in Auckland, and also won't make the subsequent trip to the Northern hemisphere, where the Kiwis will play three tests against England.
Kiwis coach Michael Maguire confirmed the news to the Herald.
"Roger won't be available for the Kiwis this time round," said Maguire. "He's still recovering from surgery and won't be in a position to play in Auckland or come on the tour."
Maguire admitted it was a setback in the short term, but was equally confident that Tuivasa-Sheck will have a huge role in this new era for the Kiwis.
"Roger is very committed to the Kiwis cause," added Maguire. "Roger and I speak regularly and it's something he is passionate about ... driving the Kiwis back to the top of the international game."
Tuivasa-Sheck injured his knee in the first half of the Warriors' elimination semi-final loss against the Panthers on September 8, after being caught in an awkward position in a tackle.
He left the field immediately and scans later revealed a medial ligament strain.
The 25-year-old had struggled with niggling injuries in the latter half of the campaign, and didn't train in the week leading up to that match with an ankle sprain.
Tuivasa-Sheck has since had surgery.
His withdrawal isn't completely unexpected, as he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee back in 2016, and no one wants to take any chances.
But his absence will leave a vacuum, especially in the leadership area. He was one of the strong contenders to be named Kiwis captain, and would have been a senior player in what is expected to be a transitional New Zealand squad.
Tuivasa-Sheck has also proved himself to be one of the best fullbacks in the sport over the last couple of years, and has taken his game to a new level in 2018.
He had eight try assists, 112 tackle breaks, and 13 line breaks in the past season, along with three tries. Tuivasa-Sheck was second across the NRL for kick return metres with 1,366 and only two other players in the competition ran for more metres than his 178.4 metres per game.
However, the bright news for the Kiwis is that Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be a more than capable deputy.
Watene-Zelezniak has enjoyed a strong season for the Panthers, and was one of the best players for Penrith in their recent finals campaign.
Maguire will name his Kiwis squad early next week.