Wellington - The All Blacks suffered a fresh setback on Sunday with lock Sam Whitelock ruled out of next month's Test series against France.
Whitelock fractured a finger during the Crusaders' 28-19 loss to the Chiefs in their Super Rugby match on Friday and could be out of rugby for up to six weeks, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.
Whitelock, who has played 39 Tests, was injured just a few days after 77-Test veteran Ali Williams announced his immediate retirement from international rugby.
"While this is disappointing for Sam, and for the All Blacks, one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity," Hansen said as the wider All Blacks training squad gathered for a two-day camp.
Hansen is expected to select rising stars Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick, who have only 35 Tests between them, to face France.
The uncapped Dominic Bird, who is in his first season of Super Rugby, is also in the training camp and is seen as the likely third lock in the Test squad.
The All Blacks open the Test series against France in Auckland on June 8.