Wellington - All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after breaking his leg during his test debut against Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Friday.
The 24-year-old earned a call-up to the New Zealand squad with a standout season for the champion Otago Highlanders in Super Rugby, finishing as the competition's top try scorer.
He played 50 minutes of the 39-18 victory over the Pumas in Christchurch before limping off with a leg injury, which scans later revealed to be a fracture.
"He has got a cracked bone in his fibula," coach Steve Hansen told Fairfax media in New Zealand in Saturday.
"So he will be out for three months, which means he is going to miss the World Cup which is pretty disappointing for him and for us."
Hansen said the results of the scan had come as a surprise and there was an outside chance Naholo could return as an injury replacement at the back end of the September 18-October 31 World Cup.
"We are all a bit shocked about it because he was weight-bearing on it and pretty good," Hansen added.
"But he got back here last night and got really sore, so the doctor thought he better have it scanned. And in the scan there is a very fine crack in it. It just means three months out.
"There is no displacement which is good. If we get him right and we do need an outside back replacement, he will be fit and ready to go in the middle of October."
The world champions, who play South Africa in the Rugby Championship next week, face Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia in the opening round of the World Cup.