Wallabies centre Pat McCabe has been ruled out of rugby for the rest of 2013 but doesn't believe his recurring neck injury will end his career.
There are fears McCabe will struggle to return to the field after the fracture he sustained on last year's spring tour reopened in Saturday night's 23-21 first test loss to the British and Irish Lions.
After consulting Sydney specialists on Tuesday, the 25-year-old has been told he faces a long course of rehabilitation. "It's unfortunate that having completed the healing process from last year's injury that it has happened again," Wallabies doctor Warren McDonald said.
"The fracture that has partially opened up is expected to repair itself and strengthen.
"This does not mean that Pat will not be able to return to the rugby field and be able to feel comfortable taking contact.
"The specialist advice is that a return is viable pending the full recovery and strengthening of the neck."
It's not only a blow to the Wallabies midfield depth but also to the Super Rugby-leading Brumbies, who had hoped to have McCabe back for their finals campaign.
McCabe must don a neck brace for a minimum six weeks, stabilising the injury, before further assessment is made.
While he's not yet in the clear, the hard-running 20-test midfielder realised the news could have been a lot worse.
"It was encouraging to hear the specialists being positive both about the recovery process but also the possibility that I could be able to return to the playing field," said McCabe, a member of Australia's leadership group last year.
"It is human nature to think the worst but I'm in good hands medically.
"I'd obviously like to get back into it, but I'll be taking no chances with my health either.
"Hopefully things will go to plan, I'm pretty confident they will. I think I've got plenty of games left in me."
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