Wales have been dealt a major blow ahead of the Rugby World Cup with the news that powerful back-row Taulupe Faletau has been ruled out of the tournament.
The Welsh Rugby Union have confirmed that the Bath number eight will require surgery on a clavicle [collarbone] injury sustained in an 'innocuous training ground incident', and as a result will play no part in the World Cup campaign.
Faletau was expected to play a central role in a Warren Gatland's plans, having recovered from an injury-ravaged season to join Wales' pre-World Cup training camp.
The 28-year-old broke his arm while playing with Bath last October, and returned for club action in January only to break the same arm again. The timing of those injuries meant that Faletau played no part in either Wales' November internationals or Grand Slam winning Six Nations campaign.
This latest setback will extend Faletau's international hiatus until at least 2020, with the player winning the last of his 72 caps in March 2018.
"The injury was sustained in an innocuous training ground incident and will require surgery. A prognosis and return to play timeframe will be established after surgery," read a statement released by the WRU.
"The Wales squad and management would like to wish Taulupe the very best with his recovery."
Gatland opted to play Dragons back-row Ross Moriarty at number eight during the Six Nations.
Cardiff Blues' Josh Navidi can play across all thee positions in the back row, while Scarlets' Aaron Shingler, another player who was sidelined last season, has been back training with Wales in their pre-season camp.
Wales are in Pool D at the World Cup, alongside Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay.