Wales back Liam Williams is a doubt for the Six Nations with the foot injury that ended his World Cup hopes.
The 24-year-old Scarlets wing or full-back had foot surgery in June and will need further surgery after re-injuring it in Wales’ 15-6 loss to Australia.
«I believe it’s an issue with the screw in the same foot, so there’ll be a surgery,» Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac said.
«He’ll be out, I would say, for a number of months as opposed to weeks.»
Wales are already without scrum-half Rhys Webb and full-back Leigh Halfpenny for the Six Nations, because of the injuries they suffered during Wales’ final warm-up game against Italy, plus centre Scott Williams.
Liam Williams played in Wales’ opening World Cup Group A win over Uruguay, but was concussed in the 28-25 win that helped knock out hosts England at the pool stage.
He returned against the Wallabies after missing the victory over Fiji, but seven minutes from the final whistle was forced off with the foot problem that ended his campaign.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has yet to call up a replacement for Williams.
«It’s a big blow,» Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins said.
«He’s been an outstanding player for us and did incredibly well to come back from his injury in the summer to get back up and running and get fit.
«He’s been playing outstandingly well, and did pretty well again yesterday until his injury.
«He’s a huge loss, but we’ve had quite a few of them and we’ve just got to get on with it.»
Despite the recurrence of Williams’ foot injury, Scarlets boss Pivac said there was no doubt that he had been fit to return to action.
«As far as I’m concerned they’ve got a very, very experienced medical group and coaching group there, and they’re not going to put any player at risk,» Pivac said.
«He’s been cleared to play and he’s played, and these things happen in a contact sport.»
Scarlets are already without their centre Scott Williams for most of the season because of the the knee injury he suffered against England.
«Losing Scott Williams was a big blow, a very important part of our side, and Liam Williams everybody knows what he’s done for the Scarlets in the past,» Pivac added.
«So it’s a double blow for the backs, so it’s really, really important that the guys we do have running around that we look after them.»
Jamie Roberts also left the field in the closing stages of the game against Australia at Twickenham, where Wales will return on Saturday to face Group B winners South Africa.
The Harlequins centre, 28, suffered a head knock but is set to be fit for the quarter-finals.
Williams’ injury comes after Wales lost wing Hallam Amos to a dislocated shoulder against England, joining centre Cory Allen (hamstring) on the sidelines.
Ospreys wing Eli Walker was a late withdrawal before the tournament because of a hamstring injury, while centre Jonathan Davies (knee) was ruled out before the World Cup.