WELLINGTON: The Wellington Hurricanes have suffered a major off-season blow with All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea ruled out for much of Super Rugby next year due to a knee injury he sustained in the Rugby World Cup.
The 26-year-old openside flanker, arguably the All Blacks' best player at the tournament in Japan, suffered the injury in the side's 19-7 semi-final loss to England in October.
"Thought I'd let you guys know that I'll be getting surgery on my knee that I injured in the semi-final," Savea said on his Instagram account.
"Unfortunately will be out for 5-6 months so will miss the majority of the Super Rugby season with my Canes brothers."
Super Rugby starts on Jan. 31 and runs uninterrupted next year, without a break in June for international matches.
Savea's return to rugby could coincide with the playoffs, if the Hurricanes make the top eight.
The 2016 champions, who have made at least the semi-finals in each of the last five seasons, are in a rebuilding phase after several stalwarts moved overseas while All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett has moved to the Auckland Blues.
The side could also potentially be looking for a new head coach with John Plumtree linked to the All Blacks set-up as an assistant to Ian Foster if he succeeds Steve Hansen.
Foster, an assistant to Hansen for the last eight years, and Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson are the only confirmed contenders for the job, with a decision due before the end of the month.
Both have been asked to present their plans for a coaching team to New Zealand Rugby's selection panel and TVNZ reported at the weekend that Plumtree had been approached by Foster to join him if he got the top job.
Plumtree, who was appointed to the Hurricanes role ahead of the 2019 season after four years as an assistant to Chris Boyd, has worked in South Africa and as a consultant for Japan's national side.
The Hurricanes open their 2020 season in South Africa against the Stormers on Feb. 1.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Clare Fallon)