Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb faces a fight to play again this season.
Webb suffered a serious foot injury during Wales’ final World Cup warm-up game against Italy in Cardiff 19 days ago.
Together with full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who damaged knee ligaments in the same match, Webb was ruled out of the World Cup.
And now his regional team the Ospreys say that the 26-year-old faces a “six to eight-month” period out of action.
Webb is therefore set to miss the entire RBS 6 Nations campaign later this term, and he could conceivably be a doubt for Wales’ 2016 summer tour of New Zealand.
In a statement, the Ospreys said: “Rhys Webb has been ruled out of action until well into 2016 after undergoing surgery on his foot.
“The scrum-half sustained what has been described as a significant injury during Wales’ final Rugby World Cup warm-up match earlier this month and is now back with the Ospreys for his recovery and rehabilitation.”
And Ospreys medical performance manager Chris Towers added: “Rhys sustained a significant foot ligament injury that required surgical stabilisation.
“He has had the surgery and will be non-weight bearing for six weeks and will then wear a protective boot for a further four to six weeks.
“Only after that will we be in a position to progress his rehab and, at this stage, Rhys is looking at a six to eight-month period out of action, a timescale that reflects the severity of his injury.”
Webb scored five tries in eight Tests last season, including three during the Six Nations, and was an integral part of Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s World Cup plans.
But injury cruelly put paid to those hopes, and Webb was subsequently replaced in Gatland’s World Cup squad by 94 times-capped Mike Phillips.