Blues loose forward Tom Robinson has undergone knee surgery and is in doubt for the remainder of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
Robinson suffered a meniscus tear in the Blues' opening 30-20 victory over the Hurricanes at Eden Park last week and after scans revealed the extent of the damage he had cartilage removed from his knee on Monday.
With eight weeks left in the New Zealand only competition, the Blues are hopeful Robinson will return in the final rounds but his workaholic presence – either from lock or blindside flanker – will be missed.
While the Blues have ample loose forward depth to cover Robinson's absence his work-rate and lineout ability has often been the glue in their forward pack.
"He's such a great kid in our environment. He's our energy bloke – if there's a yahoo to be had it'll come from Tom so we all feel for him being cut down in his stride," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said.
"He's hobbling around today so he's pretty keen to get himself back onto the bike and then onto his feet in the next three to four weeks.
"I don't think it's going to be a long injury but it might take him out of a significant amount of this short programme we have now.
"The diagnosis was six to eight weeks but we're hoping it's five to six weeks with a couple of byes in there. I'd like to see him back. I know he's going to pushing for it.
"He's had a great 14 months since he arrived at the Blues so we hope he can get himself back on the field in the same sort of form before he hurt his knee. He certainly gets through a power of work."
The news is more positive for powerhouse prop Karl Tu'inukuafe who will make his return from a hamstring injury for club side Takapuna this weekend with a view to being available after next week's bye.
Tu'inukuafe, considered one of New Zealand's strongest scrummages, was in strong form before the injury setback as he pushes for a return to the All Blacks after missing selection for last year's World Cup.
The Blues have, meanwhile, sold 19,000 tickets for Saturday's match against the Highlanders at Eden Park.