The Blues locking stocks have taken a blow with lock Culum Retallick ruled out for six months after injuring his knee in preseason training.
The 28-year-old Retallick ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
A scan and specialist consultation now sees him facing surgery next month.
"I'm absolutely gutted," said Retallick.
He loomed as a key figure for the Blues' Super Rugby campaign with All Blacks locks Ali Williams and Anthony Boric having left for overseas contracts.
"I was incredibly motivated for a big year with the Blues in 2014 and had been enjoying a tough pre-season with the guys, so it's a pretty cruel blow to have this happen before the season has even started. Hopefully I can still play a part with the team towards the end of the season."
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said Retallick was a big loss for the team.
"There's no denying he is a big loss for us," Kirwan said.
"He's a very difficult player to replace. He had a great season for us in 2013, he's experienced, a good lineout technician and is a very big part of this team so it's a big blow.
A decision on whether or not Retallick will be replaced will be made in the New Year.
Where should Super Rugby's 18th franchise be based?Related story: (See story)