Rocky Elsom is once again in a race against the clock to retain the Wallabies captaincy after being diagnosed with ankle syndesmosis.
While the Brumbies have yet to write him off, Elsom is almost certain to miss the rest of the Super Rugby season and possibly Australia's Tri Nations campaign as well.
Scans on Monday confirmed the damage after Elsom hurt his left ankle in his comeback game for the Brumbies against the Western Force on Saturday night following six months on the sidelines with a chronic hamstring injury.
The club's medical staff will continue treating Elsom this week before determining just how long he will be sidelined for.
But out of finals contention, the Brumbies only have four more games in 2011, meaning the off-contract flanker may also have played his last match for the franchise.
Of far greater concern, though, is Elsom's immediate Wallabies playing future.
Robbie Deans is on record as saying Elsom will be the Test captain if picked for the Wallabies, but the 28-year-old's latest setback must be a major concern for the national coach.
Wallabies legend Mark Ella earlier this month claimed Elsom shouldn't be picked for Australia if he didn't play Super Rugby this year, while fellow great Tim Horan said Queenslanders Will Genia and James Horwill were better captaincy material.
And only last week, former Wallabies fullback Greg Martin said on the Rugby Club on Fox Sports that reigning John Eales Medallist and 2010 international player-of-the-year nominee David Pocock was already Australia's "spiritual leader".
With classy backs Drew Mitchell, Peter Hynes, Rod Davies, Rob Horne and destructive forward Wycliff Palu already on the long-term injury list, the potential loss of Elsom for another extended period is the last thing Deans needs less than four months out from the World Cup in New Zealand.
Australia's first Test of the year is against Samoa in Sydney on July 17.
The Qantas Wallabies' only other Tests before opening their World Cup campaign against Italy in Auckland on September 11 are four Tri Nations fixtures against New Zealand and South Africa.
Depending on the full extent of his injury, Elsom may be asked to prove his fitness playing club rugby.
Although some athletes have recovered in a week or two, syndesmosis injuries usually require at least a month or more to heal.
Elsom's Brumbies teammates Stephen Moore and Henry Speight both missed six weeks this year with syndesmosis injuries, while the NRL's Sam Burgess has been ruled out for the season with a similar high-ankle sprain.