Connacht and Ireland second row Quinn Roux will be out for three months as he is set to go under the knife for an ongoing shoulder issue.
The influential lock will be out of action until May which will come as a major blow to the Westerners as they look to chase down Munster at the top of Conference B in the PRO14.
He has been in excellent form this season and had been named in Ireland's Six Nations squad before being forced to withdraw.
“It is a shame for him,” said Connacht head coach Andy Friend.
“He’s had this ongoing shoulder (problem) that’s given him some grief, in fact the whole time I’ve been here, and there hasn’t been a window for him. So this is an opportunity for him to go and get that done.
“Hopefully he gets sorted and we see Quinn coming back fit and able to do the things that he does.”
It isn't all bad news, however, as Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane, and Dave Heffernan were all released from the international squad to give them a chance to get some game time this weekend as Connacht take on Cardiff Blues at The Sportsground (Sunday from 2pm on eir sport 1).
“Ultan, because he played on Sunday, albeit minimal minutes, he was just here as an observer. The other fellas did train with us and all three just trained with us this morning," Friend said.
“They are all available and they are all fit and eager to play.”
***See FIVE LIVE PRO14 games on eir sport this weekend.