All Blacks first five eighth Dan Carter's troublesome calf will keep him out of next Saturday's test against South Africa.
It means the 30-year-old pivot will miss consecutive Rugby Championship matches after sitting out last night's 21-5 win over Argentina.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed it was "likely" Aaron Cruden would wear the No 10 jersey against the Springboks in Dunedin next weekend.
Hansen said the decision had been made early to allow Carter to fully focus on getting his leg right rather than trying to rush his recovery and give the team clarity at the start of the week.
"The type of treatment we think he needs this takes the pressure right off and gives the calf a good opportunity to come right.
"We can take him off his legs, so he's not trying to do two things, he's just trying to get it better, rather than trying to get it better to play."
Carter will stay with the squad in Dunedin and is in not in doubt for the trip to Argentina in a fortnight's time, but Hansen made it clear his star pivot's aging body would need to be increasingly managed in coming weeks and months.
"He's getting older isn't he. The more you play the game the more vulnerable you are to injury and he's got quite a few miles on the clock.
"That's just standard for an older player. He has to be smart, we have to be smart in the way we deal with him."
"At the moment it's about getting him on the park now. It's as much about that as the long term. But he's what we call a red flag athlete. He's at high risk of getting an injury and we have to smart about the wear and tear on his body and how much [strain] we put him under."
Carter's body has increasingly broken down over the past two seasons with just six test appearances last year before a groin injury sensationally ended his World Cup campaign.
A hamstring twinge ruled him out of the third test against Ireland in June.
Hansen said Cruden was likely to step into the breach again although he pointed out Beauden Barrett was also in the squad.
However, Hansen made it clear he expected improvements from his halves.
"Harsh on himself is probably fair," he said of Cruden's assessment of his own game against the Pumas. "Because he started off pretty average, but he grew into the game. He's a young five-eighth and it was really testing conditions for both him and Aaron Smith and they will both get a lot out of that test match."
Hansen would like to see more "control" and "consistency" and "better decision making" in Dunedin.
"But that's the whole team. We are looking to get better all the time and he's no different. But nines and tens, they are the main computers of the team.
"They run the side and move them around the field the way you want them to be moved around and we didn't play smart football in the first half.
"It had a lot to do with the conditions. We tried to play rugby not conducive to the conditions and we were pretty wobbly at times. But late in the first half they started to get things right and we were better in the second half."
He was coy about possible selection changes, but hinted blindside flanker Liam Messam had made a strong play for the hotly contested No 6 jersey.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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