Highlanders first five Colin Slade has broken his jaw for the second time this year and his Super rugby season is almost certainly over.
The injury could also dent his prospects for the World Cup in New Zealand, which starts on September 9th, with All Blacks coach Graham Henry looking for a backup for Daniel Carter.
Slade broke his jaw in the fifth minute of Friday's 40-18 Super rugby victory over Melbourne Rebels after a clash with opposition flanker Michael Lipman.
Slade was spitting blood as he walked off the field and was taken to hospital. Slade has had surgery in Melbourne.
He missed the first five Super Rugby matches after sustaining a similar injury in a pre-season game.
The new break was on the other side to the previous one.
The injury is a cruel blow for the 23-year-old who had shown signs he could be a front runner for the World Cup squad, though he will now only have a handful of provincial games to impress Henry and force his way into contention.