Wales skipper Matthew Rees has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after failing to fully recover from a persistent neck injury, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed on Monday.
It is another blow for Wales after the news that Gavin Henson will be sidelined for the start of the campaign and is likely to miss the entire tournament after undergoing surgery on a dislocated bone in his right wrist.
Scarlets hooker Rees has been undergoing intensive treatment with the aim of managing the injury, but it has now been decided he will undergo surgery.
"The safety and longevity of Matthew's career is paramount, we are all very disappointed that Matthew will not be with us in the World Cup but his health is at the fore of our decision," said Prav Mathema, WRU national medical performance manager.
"Matthew will not be available for selection after losing his race for fitness from a persistent neck injury.
"Following a series of injections and intensive treatment and rehabilitation the decision has been made to omit him from the squad to allow him to undergo surgery.
"The medical teams of both the Scarlets and the WRU concluded unanimously to proceed with surgery."
However, Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard has been officially added to the squad after fully recovering from shoulder surgery and reaching full fitness.
Hibbard will now join fellow Osprey Huw Bennett, Dragon Lloyd Burns and Scarlet Ken Owens in contention for selection to play against Argentina in the final warm-up match at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.