All Black pivot Dan Carter will be sidelined for at least half of New Zealand's Rugby Championship campaign after cracking a bone in his leg during last weekend's Super Rugby final, officials said on Tuesday.
Carter left the field during the Crusaders' 32-33 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney after an injury to his lower leg, which the Christchurch-based franchise said was a hairline crack to the bone which would need at least four weeks to heal.
"A scan has revealed a small crack in his upper fibula," said a Crusaders spokesperson.
"The size of the crack meant it was not originally picked up by an X-ray and required a scan to locate it.
"The injury just requires rest to heal and it is hoped that his recovery will take approximately four weeks."
The 100-Test fly-half will definitely miss New Zealand's opening two Championship fixtures against Australia, where the Bledisloe Cup will be on the line, as well as a Test against Argentina in Napier on September 6.
If his recuperation takes longer than expected, he could also miss a clash against the Springboks in Wellington a week later.
The 32-year-old had been coming back from an extended break that began at the end of last year and saw him sit out most of the Super Rugby season.