Cape Town - The Sharks' Super Rugby ambitions have been dealt a massive blow with the news that flyhalf Pat Lambie faces around 12 weeks on the sidelines.
The 25-year-old underwent surgery on his shoulder on Monday after dislocating his AC joint in his side's warm-up win over Toulon on February 5, and the news from the Sharks on Tuesday was that he would be out for around three months.
Lambie was named Super Rugby captain ahead of the 2016 season, and his absence is a major loss for a Sharks side that is seeking a vast improvement on their poor showing in 2015 when they finished 11th on the combined log.
The injury list in Durban is now a long one.
Francois Kleinhans is also out for 12 weeks as he recovers fro surgery on a torn bicep, new signing Jacques Potgieter is out for around 8 weeks with an ankle injury, Giant Mtyanda faces 3 weeks out with a nasal bone fracture, Ruan Botha is out for 12 weeks after having hip surgery and the extent of Renaldo Bothma's foot injury is not yet known.
The good news for the Sharks comes in the form of Thomas du Toit, Jean Deysel, Innocent Radebe, Stephan Lewies and Tera Mtembu with all of those players returning from injury this week.
The Sharks open their Super Rugby campaign against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on February 27.