Liam Messam has suffered his second selection blow in the space of a fortnight, told he is ineligible to play for the Chiefs in the Super Rugby play-offs.
Sanzaar informed the Chiefs they can’t field the 43-Test All Blacks flanker in the knockout phase as he hasn’t played enough regular season games.
The ruling was made hours before the 25-man Chiefs squad were to begin their travel to Cape Town, where they face the Stormers in a quarter-final on Saturday.
Messam has been replaced in the squad by flanker Tevita Koloamatangi, who hasn’t played a game this year.
Under Sanzaar rules, Messam needed to have played four games to be eligible as he wasn’t included in their initial season squad of 40.
The Chiefs sought dispensation because of a high injury toll to their loose forwards but Sanzaar declined, deeming they had enough players available to them.
Messam, 32, had dedicated his season to sevens rugby, seeking an Olympic berth.
He missed selection this month and immediately re-joined the team he had represented a record 144 times, coming off the bench against the Reds in Brisbane and then starting in Saturday’s 25-15 loss to the Highlanders.
Messam was philosophical with his reaction on Twitter.
“Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. They say when life gives you lemons turn it into lemonade.”
Meanwhile, two-Test All Blacks centre Seta Tamanivalu has been ruled out of the trip with a knee injury suffered during the loss in Dunedin. He could yet be available for the semi-finals if the Chiefs advance.
It puts pressure on the midfield, with little-used Sam Vaka a contender to start at centre.
Chiefs travelling squad:
Backs: Damian McKenzie, Shaun Stevenson, Toni Pulu, Sam Vaka, Sam McNichol, James Lowe, Anton Lienert-Brown, Aaron Cruden, Stephen Donald, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brad Weber.
Forwards: Tom Sanders, Tevita Koloamatagi, Sam Cane, Lachlan Boshier, Taleni Seu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Atu Moli, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Siate Tokolahi, Kane Hames, Mitchell Graham, Hika Elliot, Nathan Harris.