New Zealand captain Kieran Read is unlikely to be selected for the Test series against France in June as he recovers from a long-term injury.
The 32-year-old had back surgery at the end of last year following an injury-plagued 2017.
The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen told New Zealand's Radio Sport: "I don't think he'll be back until after the French series but that's not a fait accompli at this point.
"He knows his body and we can't afford to come back too early and damage it again and miss another six months and maybe even miss the World Cup.
"We'll just take it one day at a time and one week at a time".
Read is not the only big player likely to miss the three-Test series against France with first-choice hooker Dane Coles also set to be on the sidelines.
Coles is having trouble with his rehabilitation following knee surgery.
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