He's been cut down by a brutal Achilles injury in the prime of his career and James Slipper admits knowing he will miss the rest of 2017 is "sobering".
The Reds skipper has battled a torn patella tendon and an AC joint injury in the past but this is the first serious injury that has hit him early in the year.
"This one is probably the first one that has happened early in the year and looking down the track, it’s probably going to put me out for the season so that’s the first season-ending injury for me," Slipper said.
"And it's one that I’m not too keen on finding out what’s wrong with it."
Slipper bravely spoke about the moment he realised he had seriously injured himself when he arrived back at Brisbane Airport on Monday night."I literally just went to step off the line to make a lineout lift and it just released and snapped so at the moment it’s pretty disappointing and pretty sobering, to be honest," he said.
"I felt something release in my leg and I kinda looked back and thought I slipped but then the pain started creeping in.
"It was then that I realised, I looked down there and could see there wasn’t much there."
Most props are warming into their very best work at 27 years of age and Slipper's injury could only be timed worse had it been in the months prior to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
He is aware of that but said he will use the time off to prepare for a big couple of years leading into the World Cup.In his absence, Markus Vanzati will be thrown into the furnace when he takes on the Jaguares scrum in Buenos Aires - one of the toughest tasks in Super Rugby.
"With anyone, when you start playing professional rugby, especially as a prop, the only way you’re going to learn is if you get out there and scrum," Slipper said.
"Markus, I’m sure he will do a good job this week and he’s up against a tough scrum, so I’ll be watching."
Slipper was joined by Quade Cooper on the flight home.
The mercurial flyhalf has his judiciary hearing set for 4pm Tuesday (AEST).Steven Luatua copped a four-week suspension for a high shot red card in Round Two but his tackle was far more reckless.
The Reds expect at least one week but given Cooper's poor record, it would not surprise if he missed the Hurricanes clash at Suncorp Stadium as well
"I’ve seen quite a few red cards and yellow cards this year for head high tackles and it’s something the refs are clearly trying to stamp out of the game," Slipper said.
"As long as they are consistent about it I guess I can live with it but it’s just frustrating, really.
"No one goes in there to take someone’s head off purposely so it’s unfortunate but I think Quade was just trying to stop a try and he was doing everything that he could to do that."