New Zealand centre Conrad Smith will be forced to sit out the opening rounds of the inaugural Rugby Championship after undergoing eye surgery.
Smith will be sidelined for around six weeks after an operation to repair a detached retina in his left eye, sustained whilst playing for club side Wellington Hurricanes in the Super 15 series.
The surgery proved successful, but the 30-year-old now faces an extended period of recuperation.
"Conrad had two procedures on his left eye for a retinal detachment last week, with the second on Friday," Hurricanes doctor Ian Murphy explained.
"They both went well and he is now recovering at home. At this stage he is expected to be out of training for six weeks."
Smith will definitely miss New Zealand's opening two matches of the four-team tournament - back-to-back Bledisloe Cup assignments against neighbours Australia.
The All Blacks start their campaign by travelling to Sydney on August 18 and then face a return against the same opposition in Auckland a week later.
Smith faces a race against time to be fit for the clash against championship new boys Argentina which takes place in Wellington on September 8.
With Sonny Bill Williams also unavailable after his decision to leave New Zealand rugby for a stint in Japan, the All Blacks will be light on experience in the centres for the meetings with Australia.