Canterbury prop Joe Moody is heading to England to join the All Blacks squad as cover for Tony Woodcock, who injured himself in Friday's win over Tonga.
Woodcock, a veteran of 118 Tests, hobbled off with what looked like a serious hamstring injury during the second half of the world champions' 47-9 triumph in Newcastle.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed that Woodcock's injury was serious and could signal the end of his illustrious career.
"If it's a bad tear for a front-rower, there's a lot of stress that goes through your buttocks and hamstrings it could be reasonably serious," said Hansen after his side's win over Tonga.
"He's played a lot of games for the All Blacks and if this happens to be the end of his time it would be a sad way to finish because he's been a great All Black and probably deserves to go out better than that.
"We talked about that in the shed. He's an unsung hero. He can reflect on his career at some point when he is ready to do that with a lot of satisfaction. New Zealanders should be very proud of him."
Moody, who has represented New Zealand in eight Tests, was set to start for Canterbury in their ITM Cup clash against Southland in Christchurch on Saturday.
He watched the first half of that fixture from the sidelines, however, before heading to the airport to take a flight to England.