Scarlets boss Nigel Davies insists he had no choice but to let Josh Turnbull go under the knife for shoulder surgery that could keep him out for three months.
Flanker Turnbull made an outstanding start to the RaboDirect PRO12 season leading to speculation he could replace Dan Lydiate at the World Cup, if the Dragons star was forced home.
But those hopes were dashed after a long-standing problem on the 23-year-old's shoulder flared up during the defeat to Connacht.
And Davies was not prepared to risk aggravating the injury further despite being already down to the bare bones.
“Josh has been managing a shoulder problem for the last year,” said Davies. “It has progressively got worse and got to a stage where he needs an operation and will be out for three months.
“It is an operation to strengthen the shoulder, similar to what Gareth Maule had.
“It has been gradual and got to the stage that if he takes another bump, he could dislocate his shoulder.
“We can’t afford that to happen because he would be out for a longer period.
“We are trying to nip it in the bud and the medical advice is we have no other option.
“It is a big blow and it was great to have him back from the World Cup provisional squad.
“He is a key player that we have invested heavily in over the last couple of years and we would have liked to have him available to us now.”
There was better news for Davies with the news that club captain Matthew Rees could be back in action by the end of October following the neck injury that ruled him out of Wales’ World Cup campaign.
Davies added: “There was a lot of concern around Matthew’s injury and we thought he might have to have a disc removed or even replaced, which would have meant a lot longer lay-off.
“However, it was only a case of shaving one of the discs to relieve the pressure on the nerve, which has meant a far shorter rehabilitation.
“We are now looking at eight to 10 weeks after the operation which takes us to the last weekend in October.”