The Blues have confirmed their new signing first five Otere Black will miss all of next year's Super rugby season, calling up the experienced Daniel Kirkpatrick who has been playing in France for the past several years as a replacement.
Black who announced earlier in the year he was moving to the Blues from the Hurricanes where he has been in the shadow of Beauden Barrett, ruptured knee ligaments while playing for Manawatu a couple of weeks ago.
The Blues are the first of the New Zealand sides to announce their 2018 squad which includes ten current or former All Blacks.
Kirkpatrick, 28, has played for the Blues previously in 2010 and also had three seasons with the Huricanes before heading to France where he has played for Castres and more recently Albigeois.
The current All Blacks are Ofa Tuungafasi, Jerome Kaino, Matt Duffie, Patrick Tuipulotu, Rieko Ioane and Sonny Bill Williams with Akira Ioane part of the wider squad this year.
They join with the experienced James Parsons, Pauliasi Manu, Augustine Pulu, George Moala and Jimmy Tupou who have 318 Super caps between them.
The side though will also be without loose forward Blake Gibson for the first part of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
The squad get together from the end of November with the All Blacks returning later in January.
The 2018 Blues squad is:
Hookers: Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons.
Front row: Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Pauliasi Manu, Isaac Salmon, Mike Tamoaieta, Ofa Tuungafasi.
Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jimmy Tupou
Loose forwards: Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Dalton Papalii, Glenn Preston, Kara Pryor, Murphy Taramai.
Halfbacks: Sam Nock, Augustine Puli, Jonathan Ruru.
First Five: Otere Black/Daniel Kirkpatrick, Bryn Gatland, Stephen Perofeta.
Midfield: Matt Johnson, George Moala, Tamati Tua, TJ Faiane, Sonny Bill Williams.
Outside backs: Caleb Clarke, Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melanie Nanai, Jordan Trainor.