Wellington - Former England centre Riki Flutey has suffered an horrific leg injury in a pre-season game just days before he was due to make his official return to New Zealand first class rugby.
Flutey played for New Zealand Under-19s and the Maori All Blacks before leaving to take up a contract with English club London Irish in 2005.
The 34-year-old, who qualified for England on residency grounds and played 14 Tests for them, and one for the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa, returned to New Zealand earlier this year after stints with clubs in France and Japan in the hope of gaining a Super Rugby contract in 2015.
Flutey had been named in Chris Boyd's Wellington squad for New Zealand's domestic provincial championship and had said earlier he still felt he had the game to push for a Super Rugby contract with the Hurricanes next season.
However, in a match against a Canterbury select on Friday, Flutey was gang tackled and had his hamstring torn off the bone, the Dominion Post reported on Tuesday.
"Apparently there are three attachments from the hamstring to the bone and he's torn all three," Boyd, who takes over the Hurricanes next season, told the newspaper.
"He went to return a kick and ran into two or three players.
"They were rag-dolling him backwards a bit and he ended up turning his back on them a little and he basically ended up doing the splits. His torso got folded and his nose ended up on the ground between his legs and that was it."
Flutey had tweeted a photo of his injury that showed heavy bruising around the top of his right leg, which was also strapped.
He was still in hospital in Christchurch and would not know the extent of the damage until he returned to Wellington for scans though the newspaper said it was unlikely he would play again this season.
Boyd called Samoa international Fa'atonu Fili into the squad as a late replacement for Flutey.
New Zealand's provincial championship begins on Thursday with Canterbury seeking a seventh successive title.