Young Melbourne Rebels fullback Jason Woodward has been ruled out for six weeks after injuring a tendon in his finger at Super Rugby pre-season training.
The 22-year-old Woodward is facing six weeks on the sidelines, with coach Damien Hill confident he would be fit to return for round four of the Super Rugby season in early March.
The former New Zealand Under-20 representative said on Twitter that he would require an operation this week.
The 188cm, 97kg Woodward was expected to be named at fullback for the Rebels' trial game against NSW Waratahs in Hobart on Saturday, ahead of their season-opening clash with Western Force at AAMI Park on February 15.
"Torn the tendon in my finger this morning at training, out 6 weeks apparently, op on Thursday #gutted #lifecouldbeworse" Woodward said on Twitter.
The departure of fullback Mark Gerrard to Japanese rugby had opened the door for Woodward to settle into the run-on side before his pre-season setback.
Kurtley Beale will start the Hobart trial match at fullback if he gets the nod from the Rebels' high performance staff.
"He is desperate to play, and is excited about the opportunity to play with our young backline, but we will make that call on Friday," said Hill.
James O'Connor, Nic Stirzaker, Gareth Delve and Nic Henderson will share the role of captain in Saturday's clash with the Waratahs.
O'Connor said he was stoked to be named at No.10.
"This is definitely a huge match for me personally," he said.
"The reason I decided not to tour for the Wallabies is that I wasn't 100 per cent.
"I could not be happier with where I am at physically at the moment.
"I am stoked that Hilly has given me first crack at 10."