Hooker Andrew Makalio will play no part in the Crusaders' 2021 Super Rugby campaign.
The Tasman standout requires surgery for a neck injury sustained during last year's title-winning Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
Date for the surgery has yet to be set, but the recovery timeframe will rule Makalio out of both Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby trans-Tasman competitions.
"We really feel for Drewza, and we wish him all the best with surgery and his recovery," says Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson.
"While he won't take part in any games this season, Drew is a really important member of our squad and his contribution off the field will be significant.
"We look forward to connecting with him on his return to Christchurch following surgery."
The 29-year-old Makalio has been an intergral part of the Crusaders' title dominance in recent years, acting as an impact substitute behind All Black Codie Taylor.
Bay of Plenty hooker Nathan Vella has been called into the squad as Makalio's replacement for the full 2021 Super Rugby season.