New Zealand captain Richie McCaw played through the pain barrier against England on Saturday but he is now set to miss the rest of the Super Rugby regular season with a rib injury.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said McCaw is believed to have picked up the problem in either the first or second Test against England before aggravating it as his side clinched a 3-0 series whitewash at the weekend.
"The doctor had a look at it, and they didn't think it was great - they saw it was badly bruised," Hansen told Radio Sport.
"He played in the last one and he was really sore after that, so he's obviously done some more damage to it in the third Test."
McCaw, 33, will now miss the Crusaders' final three round-robin matches but is targeting a return for the play-offs .
That timetable should also see him return in time to lead the All Blacks when they face Australia on August 16 to start their Rugby Championship campaign - where a victory will see New Zealand break the tier-one record for consecutive Test victories.