All Blacks flanker Sam Cane will miss more than half of the 2019 Super Rugby season, and potentially more, as his recovery continues from a broken neck.
Cane was named co-captain of the Chiefs alongside All Blacks team-mate Brodie Retallick on Tuesday.
But it will be some time before the 27-year-old No 7 is sighted on the field.
Cane broke his neck during New Zealand's Rugby Champinship victory over South Africa in Pretoria last October.
In a statement announcing Retallick and Cane as co-captains for this year, the Chiefs said the latter's "return to the field will be welcomed near the end of April."
The last weekend of April is the 11th week of the 18-week Super Rugby regular season.
Cane is in camp with the Chiefs squad but a spokesperson said, given the nature of the injury, the end of April date was not set in stone.
This year's Rugby World Cup begins on September 20.
While Cane has been a co-captain at the Chiefs for the past three seasons, the official leadership role is new for All Blacks lock Retallick.
"Sam and Brodie have been a part of the Chiefs team for a number of years now. They both bring great values, work ethic and leadership to our team," head coach Colin Cooper said.
"Brodie has earnt a huge amount of respect among the player and management group. With his consistent performance leadership, he is a natural fit to work with Sam.
"Like Brodie, Sam is very experienced and well respected by our players and management. We have no doubt together they will drive our team performance both on and off the field."
The Chiefs play their first pre-season match against the Blues in Kaikohe on Saturday, before heading to Brisbane to play the Queensland Reds on February 8.
The 2019 Super Rugby season kicks off for the Chiefs on February 15, when they host the Highlanders in Hamilton.