Wales and Scarlets captain Matthew Rees has undergone successful neck surgery and will be out for up to 10 weeks says his region's coach Nigel Davies.
A disc-related neck problem ended the British and Irish Lions hooker's hopes of skippering Wales in the World Cup.
Rees, 30, had pain-killing injections to try to remain in the squad leaving for New Zealand on 31 August but the problem forced him to be ruled out.
"The operation went very well," Scarlets head coach Davies revealed.
"Matthew is very good and we are hoping he will be available within eight to 10 weeks."
Rees is hopeful of a return for the west Wales Pro 12 league derby when his Scarlets visit the Ospreys on 5 November - the week before the start of their Heineken Cup campaign against Castres.
Rees' front-row deputy Ken Owens is unavailable to Davies as the 24-year-old is away with the national team on World Cup duty.
But Davies insists he has "a lot of options" in the hooker position with Emyr Phillips, Craig Hawkins and Wales under-20 international Kirby Myhill all ready for an extended run in the first-team.