"It's quite a serious injury, I think, particularly in his position because pushing is pretty important in that area," coach Graham Henry said.
"He's struggled with it for a month. He's had injections to play and been wearing a boot after playing. We're very keen to get him right.
"We don't want to play him too early and he does damage to it and he's out for the season.
"He won't play against Ireland and we'll just have to wait and see. Rest is the cure. He hasn't got any fractures or anything - it's just bad bruising to the bone."
Hurricanes prop John Schwalger has been called in as cover and will work alongside John Afoa, Neemia Tialata and Greg Somerville.
Highlanders scrum-half Jimmy Cowan has also been brought in as cover for Brendon Leonard, who has a sore knee.
There were six new caps named in the squad on Sunday, with perhaps the biggest surprises the inclusion of Adam Thomson and Richard Kahui.
Kahui has been plagued by injury during his two seasons with the Chiefs, missing most of 2007 with shoulder problems and a good chunk of this season with an ankle injury.
Thomson, who was a stand-out performer in a struggling Highlanders side, was given the nod ahead of Crusaders blindside flanker Kieran Read, who has had a fantastic season in their title-winning campaign.
"We think Adam played exceptionally well in a side that hasn't had the same success. He's been quite a dominant player in that side and has got better and better," added Henry.
"He's got a lot of athleticism; he's a good line-out player and scores long-distance tries so he's a player of a lot of ability."
There were also four players recalled from the international wilderness - Afoa, Brad Thorn, Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu.