South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard faces "several months" on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligaments while playing for French Top14 side Montpellier on Friday.
The 2019 World Cup winner was carried off the field on a stretcher during the 41-17 loss to Racing 92 and scans have now revealed the severity of the injury.
"The club confirms the absence for several months of Handre Pollard, victim of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments. We wish him a quick recovery," Montpellier said in a statement on Monday.
It rules the first-choice Bok fly-half out of the Rugby Championship that is scheduled to be played in Australia from Nov. 7-Dec. 12, and will significantly cut his preparation time for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa that starts next July.
Pollard's control at fly-half is key to the Boks' game-plan but his injury will provide his deputy in the team, Elton Jantjies, a chance to stake a claim for the No. 10 jersey against the Lions.
It is the second time Pollard has been sidelined with a serious knee injury having missed the entire 2016 season with a similar complaint.