Wales prop Tomas Francis will miss the start of the upcoming Six Nations tournament after undergoing a surgery on his shoulder.
Francis suffered the blow during Wales' semi-final defeat to South Africa in the recently concluded World Cup in Japan and has gone under the knife. He will continue his rehabilitation with his club Exeter Chiefs and is expected to remain on the sidelines for up to four months.
The Sandy Park outfit have already lost tight-head Greg Holmes to injury and has acquired the services of Argentina's Enrique Pieretto as a cover for the remainder of the season.
"After two or three scans it became clear that Tom needs an operation to repair the shoulder injury he picked up with Wales at the World Cup," said Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter.
"It's not great news for us, but at least we know where we stand now.
"We've therefore moved pretty quickly not just because we've lost Tom, but also Greg's Achilles has proved more problematic than we first thought.
"Again, he's going to be out for two or three months, so we felt it was the right thing to do to strengthen ourselves at tight-head."
Wales will play a game against Barbarians in Cardiff on 30th November before beginning their Six Nations title defence on 1st February against Italy.