Newcastle Falcons centre Joe Shaw will miss the rest of the current season, as he prepares to undergo knee surgery.
The 28-year-old, who had only recently signed a two-year contract extension with the Falcons, will go under the knife after sustaining the injury in the Guinness Premiership clash against Bristol last month.
Acting director of rugby, Steve Bates, said: "It is a blow to lose any player at this stage of the campaign, and Joe is obviously bitterly disappointed.
"But he will be back next season, and can now start his rehab with that in mind."
Shaw made ten appearances for the Falcons this season, scoring one try, as well as captaining the Falcons Development Team to second place in the Guinness A League where they went all season unbeaten at home.
The Falcons have a shot at European Challenge Cup glory but first must beat Worcester Warriors in the semi-final on Friday, 25 April. (20:00).
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.