The Melbourne Rebels won’t see Sean McMahon on the field for at least another six weeks, the flanker headlining another season of carnage.
McMahon has missed the first six rounds of Super Rugby after off-season ankle surgery but was initially expected to be back in action in the next fortnight.
A knee injury on his road back to fitness has blown that return date out until June, the club has said.
Should everything be on track, McMahon could potentially play against the Brumbies in Canberra in round 15, but that leaves him little time to return to his peak for the first Wallabies Test the next week.
“We’re disappointed for Sean after he’s been so diligent during his rehab but the latest incident underlines a frustrating season which has been impacted by injury,” Melbourne Rebels general manager football operations Baden Stephenson said.
“The rigours of Super Rugby have taken their toll on the squad with 16 players unavailable from existing long term injuries suffered last year, concussions or other physical contact related injuries.”
If he makes it back for the final matches of Super Rugby, those could be McMahon’s last for the club, with the flanker off-contract this season and the Reds believed to be keen on securing his talents.
McMahon’s name is just the top of a long list of unavailable Rebels, with fellow backrower Jordy Reid ruled out for six weeks with a broken back.
Reid has been playing with the injury the past two weeks but that courageous effort stops now.
The Rebels have four players - Dom Shipperley (knee), Pama Fou (knee), new recruit Alex Toolis (knee) and Rob Leota (knee) - out for the season, while Sam Jeffries has an indefinite return date, battling a foot injury.
Three-month layoffs loom for Murray Douglas and U20s star Harley Fox, while Tim Metcher, fullback Jack Maddocks, prop Cruze Ah-Nau and Semisi Tupou are all out for the better part of a month.
Rampaging number eight Amanaki Mafi (ankle) and winger Sefa Naivalu (shoulder) are both under a cloud for next week’s clash with the Brumbies as well.
In one positive, prop Toby Smith is shaping to be available for their clash with the Kings on April 30.