Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has suggested World Cup winner Richie McCaw faces another "three weeks to a month" on the sidelines before he can make his return to Super Rugby from a foot injury.
The 31-year-old has missed the opening three rounds of the new season because of the ongoing problem and Blackadder says he no intention of putting a date on his much-needed return.
The Christchurch-based club have struggled for consistency in the absence of the All Blacks favourite but Blackadder insisted he would not be rushed back.
"We are still going to have to wait and see when we get back from South Africa, so he is still another three weeks to a month away from being considered," he said.
Crusaders hit the ground running with a tight win against the Blues on the opening day of the Super Rugby season, but have since fallen to defeats by the Highlanders and the Chiefs.
They are 10 points adrift of the Highlanders at the top of the New Zealand conference but have played one game less.
Blackadder is refusing to panic and insisted Crusaders would get the win their performances have merited.
"We're just off the pace, the last two weeks was really unlike us and we are a far better team than that," the coach told One Sport.
"I look back and look at our focus we just weren't focussing on the critical things that are going to make a difference in those games but we are a better side and I think you will see that this Saturday."
Crusaders play host to the Cheetahs at Rugby League Park on Saturday (06:35 GMT) – a game which could feature the return of All Blacks superstar Dan Carter from a groin injury.
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