All Blacks first five-eighth Dan Carter will not be rushed back into action upon his return from a serious Achilles tendon injury suffered while playing for Perpignan, the New Zealand Rugby Union said on Monday.
Carter limped off the field on Saturday in the final seconds of a French championship game against Stade Francais, just after scoring a penalty which helped Perpignan secure a 13-13 draw.
His club later confirmed he had suffered a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon and could be out of action for six months.
The New Zealand Rugby Union said they would be monitoring Carter's recovery and would not be rushing him back into action.
"It's hugely disappointing for Dan. He was really enjoying playing in France," All Blacks manager Darren Shand said on Monday.
"Dan's now resting at home in Perpignan and it's probable that he will need surgery but a full assessment will be made over the next few days. (He) will return to rugby when he is ready and we will support him throughout his rehabilitation."
Carter joined the French club in December on a sabbatical until the end of the European season.
He had been granted a six-month sabbatical from his NZRU contract to play in France, missing the 2009 Super 14 season before he returned for the All Blacks' domestic international programme.
New Zealand play France on June 13 and 20 and Italy on June 27 before they begin the defence of the Tri-Nations against Australia in Auckland on July 18.