Jason Smith, Hull's kingpin, will miss the first three months of what he has already decided will be his last season as a player.
Smith has had an operation on the shoulder he first injured in the match against Bradford last April. He aggravated the damage in the pre-season friendly against Hull KR and has now been told that he will not be able to play until May at the earliest. The Super League season starts next weekend.
"I had set my sights on playing in every match this season," said Smith, whose career since coming to Britain has been a patchwork of brilliantly influential performances punctuated by spells on the sidelines.
The latest setback will not, however, force him into premature retirement, he insists. "Once you retire you don't get a second chance and I wanted a big season this year," he said.
His coach, Shaun McRae, believes he can still have an impact on his final season. "This is an obvious blow to both Jason and the team," he said. "However, I'm confident that Jason will return to the field of play 100 per cent fit."
Huddersfield have also lost a player for the early stages of the season with the news that their prop, Jim Gannon, will be missing for two months after damaging hand ligaments.
The Giants have also lost their assistant coach, with Billy McGinty - appointed at the end of last season - resigning for family reasons. "I had to make a decision and I know I've done it for the right reasons," the former Wigan assistant and Workington Town coach said.
The Workington player, Darren King, has denied taking any banned substance after failing a random drug test. The Rugby League has confirmed that the 21-year-old hooker has been called to a hearing.
The Sheffield Eagles' forward, Simon Morton, has spent a second night in hospital after having emergency surgery on a serious leg injury which he suffered in Wednesday night's Arriva Trains Cup game against Doncaster. The Great Britain Student international is expected to be out for at least six weeks.
The Rochdale Hornets coach, Bobbie Goulding, is to give Richard Varkulis, on loan from Warrington, his debut for the club in the Arriva Trains match against Halifax tomorrow.
Australia are setting up a match against the United States in New York this winter, on their way home after from the inaugural Tri-Nations tournament in Britain.
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