Karmichael Hunt's hopes of a return to the Australia squad ahead of the World Cup have been dealt a blow with the New South Wales Waratahs utility back expected to miss the rest of the Super Rugby season with a knee injury.
Hunt went down with a suspected medial ligament injury in the first minute of a 23-15 loss to the Jaguares on Saturday.
While Hunt's team are still awaiting the results of a scan, Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy gave a gloomy prognosis when asked whether Hunt was out for the rest of the season.
"Yeah, I should imagine so, unless something remarkable happens," Tandy told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
"It's just really disappointing for Karmichael and the team.
"You're obviously losing a player with a lot of experience and his physical presence, and what he brings to the training week is obviously a big miss."
Frozen out by Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn last season, Hunt was thrown a lifeline by Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson and was seen as a contender for a spot in Michael Cheika's squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
However, the 32-year-old seems unlikely to have any more chances to impress Cheika before the coach picks his squad for the Rugby Championship starting in July.
The Waratahs' loss to the Jaguares has all but killed off their playoffs chances in a dreary season after their run to last year's semi-finals.
Sitting third in the Australian conference behind the leading Brumbies and the Melbourne Rebels with three rounds left in the regular season, the Waratahs had already lost the services of Wallabies fullback Israel Folau after he was sacked for a controversial social media post.