The Western Force have been hit by another injury setback, with prop Tetera Faulkner likely to miss the first six weeks of the season.
Tighthead Faulkner reportedly tore a medial ligament in training on Tuesday, six weeks out from the start of the Super Rugby season.
The 27-year-old started all but one match in the Force’s 2015 season and has become a key plank of the Force front row.
His injury adds salt to the already wounded Force forward pack, after South African loosehead Francois Van Wyk dislocated his wrist, leaving him unavailable for the first six matches.
The WA franchise will be heavily reliant on veteran prop Pek Cowan going into the 2016 season, leaving the 29-year-old with a big weight on his shoulders.
The Force plays its first trial against the Hurricanes on February 3 in Gosford, with their opening Super Rugby match against the Rebels in Perth on February 27.