Cape Town - All Blacks skipper and Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read was all smiles following an operation on his thumb in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The 97-Test veteran had surgery on a fracture on the base of his right thumb at Rosepark Hospitaal.
Read was scheduled to travel with the team to Johannesburg as they prepare to face the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off at 17:15), before returning to New Zealand.
Read now faces a race against the clock to be fit for the highly-anticipated Test series against the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand.
Typically it takes around six weeks to recovery from such an injury and more will be known when post-surgery assessments are completed.
The first Test against the Lions will be in Auckland on June 24 - less than eight weeks away.
The All Blacks have arranged a Test against Samoa in Auckland, several weeks before the first Test, a clash Read may target for his comeback game.
The Crusaders are also scheduled to play the British Lions in Christchurch on June 10, but given the tight timeframe, Read may not be fully fit at that stage of the season.
"Not what I was planning for a Saturday night in Bloemfontein but will keep my head up and be back out on the track soon," he said in a Facebook post.