The Waratahs, hoping to bounce back from two defeats in the opening three weeks, have been dealt another cruel blow.
Tahs flank Pat McCutcheon will miss the rest of the Super Rugby season, after he sustained a fracture dislocation of his left ankle during his team's heartbreaking one-point (17-18) loss to the Highlanders at the weekend.
The Waratahs said in a statement that he will undergo surgery on Monday, following the injury he sustained in the act of scoring a try in Saturday's game in Dunedin.
McCutcheon will spend at least six months rehabilitating his ankle.
His absence means coach Michael Foley will have to dip even deeper into his loose forward resources.
The Tahs are also sweating on the fitness of powerful No.8 Wycliff Palu, who was a late withdrawal from the trip to Dunedin as he failed to fully recover from a lower leg injury, while openside flank Chris Alcock (head knock) is also still doubtful.
Regular captain Rocky Elsom (hamstring) remains unavailable.
Foley is hopeful that Alcock would be back for this coming Saturday's encounter with the Western Force in Sydney.
The good news is that Wallaby lock Sitaleki Timani has rejoined the squad, following the completion of his club season in Japan.
The coach admitted that he may have a few sleepless nights before naming his team.
"Cliffy Palu is a possibility, although definitely still in some doubt," Foley told AAP.
"We have Rocky in the next few weeks hopefully returning and Cliffy should be back in the fold sooner rather than later, so we do have some depth there.
"Sitaleki Timani coming back is somebody else who can play [at] No.6, if not he can play lock with Dean Mumm playing [at] No.6."
Foley said he wouldn't need to pull someone into the squad for McCutcheon as he had Alcock, Jono Jenkins - who came off the bench for McCutcheon in Dunedin - and Randwick's Seilala Lam, who has been training with the Waratahs.
He expected to make a decision soon about a replacement hooker for Damien Fitzpatrick, who was last week operated on after suffering a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Players not available for selection for Saturday's match include Dan Vickerman (shoulder/leg) , Rocky Elsom (hamstring), Drew Mitchell (ankle), Lachie Turner (hamstring), Damien Fitzpatrick (knee) and Pat McCutcheon (ankle).
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