Issac Luke's impending shoulder surgery has presented Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney with a potentially significant headache with the NRL's premier dummy half runner at risk of missing the annual Anzac test in May.
The Kangaroos consider the South Sydney hooker as the Kiwis prime attacking threat - negating his influence is a priority when the trans-Tasman rival meet.
New Zealand traditionally struggle in the mid-season fixture and if Luke is absent the prospects of avenging a humiliating defeat in last year's World Cup final in Manchester at Sydney's Allianz Stadium on May 4 dim further.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire confirmed Luke will miss between four and 10 weeks of NRL action and see a specialist tomorrow.
The key playmaker hurt his left shoulder late in the Rabbitohs' upset 25-16 loss to Wests Tigers on Friday night and left the field in considerable discomfort with his arm supported.
The Kiwi representative attended Souths' recovery session on Saturday with his arm in a sling.
Maguire said scans were inconclusive and the club would know more when he went under the knife this week.
"This is one we really have to talk to surgeons about," Maguire told the Triple M radio network.
"It could be a four-weeker, it could be a 10-weeker.
"We just really have to wait and see."
NSW Cup hooker Apisai Koroisau, who represented Fiji at last year's World Cup but is yet to play NRL, has emerged as a likely replacement for Luke.
In good news for Souths fans, Maguire said superstar Greg Inglis, who was knocked out in the fifth minute on Friday night and didn't return, would be fit for Souths' round four match with Canberra on Sunday.
"He will be fine," Maguire said.
"There probably was an opportunity to play him at the back end but our doc, obviously with things that are going on at the moment, thought it was best to keep him on the sidelines."
The Rabbitohs led 6-0 when Inglis departed and again showed the struggles they have without him, but Maguire denied suggestion they are a one-man band.
"You take the best out of any team and it can have a reaction but you have to be able to handle that," he said.
"You have to find ways (to win) and we have the quality of players to be able to do that.
"As much as he was a loss, we should have grouped together and put on a better performance."
Prop Aaron Woods claimed the Tigers successfully targeted Sam Burgess' indiscipline in their impressive win and Maguire admitted it was something he had to look at.
"As much as they are talking on the Burgesses, they are taking on our whole forward pack," he said.
"We are not the first forward pack to face a few challenges."
What should the Warriors do with Dane Nielsen?Related story: (See story)