The Crusaders will have to do without skipper Kieran Read for at least another few rounds of action.
Assistant coach Jason Ryan has revealed that the All Blacks captain will miss his original deadline for a return to Super Rugby, which was originally set at four weeks.
"[Read] is two or three, probably, weeks away. We are not 100 per cent sure yet," Ryan said.
"We will just see how he goes. He is back into his training, and so forth. We are pretty confident."
That could see him sidelined until the Crusaders' clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington on March 29.
Both Read and fellow All Black forward Sam Whitelock are being afforded a delayed return to rugby by instruction from NZ Rugby, in anticipation of the workload looming later in the year.
Ryan said the decision to push Read's comeback date back was made in conjunction with the sport's national governing body.
"We will just see where he is at…We can't sort of say much more than that.
"He is looking good, training today and jumping in the lineouts and he had a good week last week."
Whitelock and All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor will both be available for selection this weekend.
Read's absence shouldn't prove much of a concern for the surging Crusaders, as the competition's only undefeated team prepares to face the struggling Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday.
Meanwhile, prop Tim Perry's stay in the stands could see him miss the entire Crusaders campaign, after undergoing surgery on the broken arm suffered in round one against the Blues.
"We are not sure if he's out for all the season, but the majority," Ryan stated. "There's every chance he could be ready around the final round robin game."
Winger Massa Mataele's prospects are much less promising, confirmed out for the season due to his PCL tear.