Veteran hooker Andrew Hore's brain explosion in the win over Wales at the weekend has forced New Zealand to call in cover.
All Black coach Steve Hansen admitted Hore will "probably" be cited, following his cheap shot that sent Welsh lock Bradley Davies top hospital.
The swinging arm, with a clenched fist, to the side of the head from behind just 28 seconds into New Zealand's 33-10 win in Cardiff flattened Davies - with the prone Davies stretchered off and later required hospital treatment because "he did not know where he was".
Social media erupted with criticism of Hore, 34, in the wake of the incident, but All Black coach Steve Hansen was guarded in his reaction.
"It looked like he [Hore] went to get him out of the way and clearly something's happened," Hansen said.
"It's unfortunate that it's happened and no doubt it will be talked about."
Asked if he expected Hore to be cited by the match judiciary official, Hansen replied "probably".
New Zealander Gatland was reluctant to openly criticise the Hore incident, saying: "It doesn't look the best in the world.
"You don't usually associate the All Blacks as a side that resorts to cheap shots. I hope that's not the case. I hope it's just an accident."
New Zealand flank Adam Thomson has already been in front of the judiciary on this tour, ultimately being banned for two weeks for stamping in the opening Test against Scotland.
Meanwhile a calf muscle injury to fellow-veteran hooker Keven Mealamu could leave tour rookie Dane Coles as the only fit hooker for next week's Test against England at Twickenham.
Now the All Blacks are making contingency plans after the ugly incident.
Hooker Hika Elliot and uncapped flyhalf Tom Taylor have been called in as cover for the final week of the All Blacks' year-end tour.
Elliot, who has three caps, joined the All Blacks after having been part of the New Zealand Maori side that finished a three-match tour of England with victory over Canada at Oxford at the weekend.
Taylor, the 23-year-old son of former All Black Warwick Taylor, will provide back-up for Dan Carter, who missed the win over Wales because of an Achilles problem.
The injury also casts doubt on Carter's chances of being available for the tour finale against England this coming Saturday.
Aaron Cruden took over the No.10 jersey against Wales, kicking 18 points, but went off midway through the second half after tightening up.
The World Cup champions head into the match at Twickenham looking to finish the year unbeaten.
They have won 19 of their last 20 Tests stretching back to last year's World Cup, with the 18-18 draw with the Wallabies in Brisbane last month the only blot on their record.
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