Sydney - Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper will miss the start of the Super Rugby season after being sidelined for up to three months with a fractured collar bone sustained in training with the Reds.
It is a big blow to the 26-year-old, who missed four months of last season because of a shoulder injury and needs a strong Super Rugby campaign if he is to win back the Wallabies No 10 jersey from Bernard Foley in time for the Rugby World Cup.
Cooper is to have surgery on his shoulder next Tuesday and could be replaced in the Reds starting line-up by new recruit James O'Connor, who started at flyhalf for Australia against the British and Irish Lions two years ago.
"I'm gutted to be missing the start of the season, but injury setbacks are something you learn to deal with and this isn't the first time I've had to come back from something like this," Cooper said in a news release.
"There's a lot of excitement among the group for the season, so it's good motivation for me to give myself every chance of getting back on the field as soon as possible."
The Reds, champions in 2011 but third bottom last year, start their 2015 campaign against the Brumbies in Canberra on February 13.