Inspirational Force hooker Nathan Charles has been ruled out for the remainder of 2016 after suffering a shoulder injury against the Crusaders a fortnight ago.
The season-ending blow is another turn of poor luck for Charles, who has battled injuries the past two years after making his Wallabies debut in 2014.
Force coach Michael Foley said it was terrible timing for the hooker, who looked to be returning to form in recent weeks.
“It’s a real shame,” Foley said.
“I think Nathan was just getting back to that point this year and you could see some that in his game.
“To get that injury it’s very unlucky.”
Charles enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, capped off by his Wallabies debut but a pec injury put a dampener on that, ending his year.
He found his way back to play in 16 games for the Force in 2015 and hit the ground running this season before this latest injury.
Foley said Charles was understandably frustrated as he prepared to face yet another long layoff from rugby.
“You’re a young person at the prime of your life and you’re ripping into professional sport, making improvements and then you have your legs cut out from under you for a short period of time with an injury,” hee said.
“I’d like to think the team would get around him, and I know he’s got very good support from his family and his partner Verity, who plays for the (ANZ hampionship side, West Coast) Fever.
“His partner understands professional sport and the ups and downs of that, we’re just keen to support him.”
The Force’s bad news has been compounded by the confirmation that Pek Cowan will miss up to 10 weeks with a broken wrist, while winger Luke Morahan has been ruled out of the Waratahs match with deep vein thrombosis.
The Western Force take on the Waratahs at nib Stadium at 7:30pm AEST on Saturday, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.