The All Blacks' depleted midfield stocks have taken another hit with Crusaders centre Braydon Ennor set to miss the upcoming July tests against Tonga and Fiji.
Ennor will be out for around five weeks after suffering appendicitis, the All Blacks announced.
"Braydon Ennor is to miss the Steinlager Series after suffering appendicitis. Ennor has had surgery and will be out of rugby for around five weeks. No replacement has been called into the squad at this stage. Good luck with the recovery, Braydon," read an All Blacks update shared on the team's social media channels.
His injury comes with the All Blacks midfield already thin, leaving coach Ian Foster with just three options heading into the first test of the year against Tonga on July 3.
Jack Goodhue was ruled out for the rest of the year after suffering a knee rupture in April and Anton Lienert-Brown will miss several weeks after needing minor elbow surgery, while Ngani Laumape is leaving New Zealand to join French club Stade Francais.
It leaves just Rieko Ioane, David Havili and rookie Quinn Tupaea available in the midfield for the July tests, with Lienert-Brown still a doubt for the second test against Fiji.
After being named in the All Blacks' 36-man squad this week, the 22-year-old Tupaea said he's looking forward to developing his game in the new environment.
"It's exciting. To be in the All Blacks set-up is awesome, and to learn off the experienced midfielders they have there is going to be pretty exciting. Getting in there and developing my game is pretty cool," he said.
Whether he's ready to step up to the international arena remains to be seen, but his Chiefs teammates were confident he is ready.
"From when he first came in as a young player I could see the talent in him, and someone asked me years ago who do you reckon the next Chiefs All Black is going to be and that was the name I threw in there," said Chiefs and All Blacks prop Angus Ta'avao.
"He's physical, I feel like this year he took a whole step up. Realised how strong he was and his confidence just grew and had a little bit of an injury which took him out for a little bit but came straight back."
Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie shares similar thoughts.
"The day he walked in the door at the Chiefs you knew he was going to be a special talent. He's a big boy, he's young, he works real hard, he's not a guy who relies on his natural talent which he's got plenty of, he just works the house down all the time.
"Even just hearing that he got his name read out gives you goosebumps yourself."
The All Blacks take on Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on July 3, followed by back-to-back tests against Fiji in Dunedin and Hamilton.