The Wales full-back Lee Byrne could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after his club revealed he had suffered a significant back injury.
The Clermont Auvergne player was hurt just before half-time of his team's Heineken Cup victory over the reigning European champions, Leinster, in Dublin last weekend.
The French club said that 32-year-old Byrne, who has won 46 Test caps and toured South Africa with the 2009 British and Irish Lions, had "suffered a fractured right pedicle of the fifth lumbar vertebra".
He was not part of the Wales squad which suffered a whitewash in the autumn internationals but his injury reduces the nation's options further before the Six Nations.
They already face a tough task to retain their title with serious concerns over injuries and form but Adam Jones, the tight-head prop has insisted they can bounce back. "I don't think we've turned into a poor team overnight," he said. "There's a lot of talent in the squad."
- More about:
- British And Irish Lions
- Heineken Cup
- South Africa
- Southern Africa