South Sydney prop Luke Burgess has been ruled out for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery following an injury sustained in training with the NRL club.
The news is a huge blow for the 30-year-old who has endured a stop-start career since moving to the Rabbitohs from Super League club Leeds in 2011.
Burgess broke his foot last year and missed a large chunk of the season and his latest setback will hinder his hopes of making the England squad for the Rugby League World Cup starting in October.
"This is definitely a setback for Luke but he takes a highly professional approach to his football and we know he will do everything he can to return as early as he can," said Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire.
"We have a good team of medical staff and trainers here at Souths and they will make sure that Biffa returns in top shape."
Veteran centre Matt King is also struggling to make the season opener against Sydney Roosters on March 7 after making a slower-than-expected recovery from a broken arm suffered against the Melbourne Storm in the 2012 qualifying final.
Utility back Dylan Farrell is also rehabilitating after a back injury.
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