Australia and Queensland Reds prop James Slipper will miss the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season after opting to undergo shoulder surgery.
Slipper featured in six matches for the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup as Michael Cheika's side finished runners-up to New Zealand. The Reds captain revealed the shoulder problem has troubled him for several seasons, but he did not want to risk missing out on a place at England 2015.
He will now visit surgeon Phil Duke to assess the extent of the damage; a clean-up operation would likely rule him out of the Reds' opening Super Rugby fixture against New South Wales Waratahs on February 27, while a full reconstruction could see him sidelined until May.
"If I'd got the shoulder fixed a few years ago, it probably was only going to be a clean-up but it's been grumbling for a good while so I've got to expect that a full reconstruction and four-to-six months out is a possibility," Slipper told the Courier Mail.
"It didn't affect my grip strength in scrums but it meant I couldn't do all I wanted in the gym and my recovery after games was definitely slower.
"There was no way I was going to give up a World Cup. It was a great experience considering where we had to come from last year but I'm still very, very disappointed we weren't able to win the final."
It is the latest blow for the Reds ahead of the 2016 season after new signing Kane Douglas was sidelined with a serious knee injury.