The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will miss the opening rounds of the Super Rugby competition, after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot.
McCaw developed pain in his foot while doing a fitness test last week and a scan has confirmed the fracture.
He'll now have surgery to insert a small screw in the bone running down the outside of the foot to the little toe and is likely to miss the first six weeks of the competition.
The Crusaders had already planned for him to sit out the first two rounds against the Blues and the Hurricanes, after a busy season last year.
Kieran Read will captain the Crusaders in McCaw's absence.