Ireland and Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss is out for the rest of the season after tests confirmed he needs heart surgery.
The South African-born star has been diagnosed with a hole in the heart which has been present from birth, but the condition is not regarded as serious.
Leinster hope to have Strauss fit and ready for action by the start of next season according to a statement issued on Monday.
It said, “Following the result of extensive medical tests, it has emerged that Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss has been diagnosed with a heart condition and will be unavailable for selection for the remainder of the season.
“The management are confident that the 27-year-old, who is set to undergo surgery this week, will make a full recovery and will provide him with the best care in his recovery.”
Strauss made his Ireland debut against his native South Africa last year and has won four caps.
Leinster begin their Heineken Cup bid away to the Ospreys in Wales on Saturday, with major injury doubts over former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll.
O’Driscoll missed the 19-15 Rabo12 defeat away to Munster last weekend with a calf strain and has only a 50-50 chance of playing in Swansea.
Winger Lote Tuqiri has suffered a recurrence of a hamstring strain and will miss the game.
New signing Zane Kirchner is available after international duty while Luke Fitzgerald and Sean O’Brien are also fit to face the Ospreys.
The top 300 Irish family names explained