By Dylan Cleaver / Photo: Brett Phibbs
Suddenly 2011 looks a long way away for the skipper.
His immediate future might have been determined by surgeon Dr Andrew Vincent but Richie McCaw and his NZRU paymasters need to come up with a long-term solution as to how best ensure the captain is a prime physical specimen come September 2011, not held together by sticky tape.
Make no (broken) bones about it, McCaw plays in the most high-impact position on the field and he has done so at the top level for the past eight years with a complete and utter lack of regard for his personal well-being.
Now is as good a time as any for him to stand back and chart a path to the 2011 World Cup.
That path might require him to step aside from some test match rugby.
We're not talking a soft-option Super 14 'sabbatical', but sitting out test matches to give his creaking body ample recovery time.
The thought is no doubt anathema to him, as it is to all the purists who believe the test jersey is sacrosanct.
Because his NZRU contract gives him scope to take a break, McCaw was asked whether he had given the matter any more thought in the wake of his stop-start 2009 campaign.
"To be honest, no," was the start of his reply.
Well, that might not be good enough. While he might brush off two knee injuries in a year as "bad luck", deep down he knows his body is starting to sing him songs that he doesn't want to hear.
There's the head knocks, the constant grinding of cartilage. McCaw might be a rugby Superman but he is not indestructible.
Graham Henry knows that as well as anybody. McCaw's absence is Henry's Gordian knot. The June tests might go some way to solving the problem.
If it remains no clearer whether the All Blacks can be as effective without the best No 7 in the world - and their captain no less - then intervention is required.
Whether anybody likes it or not.