The ACT Brumbies say star flanker David Pocock's latest injury setback is irrelevant to whether they extend his contract, but the former Wallabies skipper does have to prove he is over his second knee reconstruction before they re-sign him.
While the Brumbies are yet to announce who will wear the captain's armband, Stephen Moore has backed vice-captain Nic White for the role.
Pocock suffered a grade-one syndesmosis injury about 26 minutes into the Brumbies' thrashing of the Queensland Reds last Friday and will be assessed on a week-by-week basis after he played out the game. There are reports he could be out for up to five weeks.
But he will miss the clash with Super Rugby title favourites Waikato Chiefs at New Plymouth on Friday night.
The 26-year-old is off contract at the end of the season and Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones said they would wait and see how Pocock recovered before finalising any contract extensions.
Jones is expecting plenty of competition for Pocock's signature. "There'll be pressure on us because he'll have options," he said.
"We're not rushing into at this stage, we want to see how he recovers from this.
"We had to [wait to see how he comes back], that would be prudent to do so because he's had two knee reconstructions.
"We wanted to see how he got through the games, but we're not going to wait too long and we've started the process. We couldn't sign him up on pre-season form."
Moore has resisted the urge to return to the starting XV and has not put a date on when he might make his first run-on start since his knee reconstruction.
He was happy with his return to Super Rugby, after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his debut as Wallabies captain last year, playing the final 30 minutes against the Reds.
"That's been the plan all along, it's still only my second game back in eight months," Moore said. "I felt good out there, I didn't think about the knee at all while I was out, which was good."
With Pocock sidelined, White is the only member of the leadership group in the starting XV and the logical choice to wear the armband.
Moore backed the feisty scrumhalf to handle the added responsibilities, despite the No. 9's talkative nature. He said the Brumbies were making a conscious effort to limit the talk to the referees this season.
"I think Whitey will do it, given he's the vice-captain, you wouldn't have to extrapolate too far there," Moore said.
"Myself and Whitey talk a lot throughout the week about how the game might go and what we might do in certain situations ... and we're comfortable with how that will work."
Moore was also confident reigning Brett Robinson Award winner Jarrad Butler would handle the shift to openside flanker as well as he did last season following Pocock's season-ending knee injury.
With Butler likely to shift spots in the back row, Jordan Smiler could come into the starting line-up at No. 8.
Ita Vaea is another option as a loose forward, but he played his first game since overcoming blood clots on his heart last weekend and his fitness probably isn't at a starting level just yet.
"We're fortunate that JB had so long in that position last year and was outstanding for us every week," Moore said.
"I'd say if he comes in there he'd slot in pretty seamlessly.
"We'll miss Dave, no doubt, he was fantastic for us last week, and I think any team would miss him the way he played."
Friday: ACT Brumbies v Waikato Chiefs at New Plymouth, 7.35pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.