Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies faces a race against time to be fit for Wales' defence of their Six Nations crown in February after confirmation that he requires surgery on a chest injury set to keep him out of action for up to four months.
Davies limped out of Saturday's 15-24 loss to South Africa at the Millennium Stadium after damaging a pectoral muscle in the build up to the visitors opening try.
Assessment by the Wales medical staff has confirmed that the 25-year-old has ruptured the muscle and must now undergo surgery before he is able to play again.
With Wales scheduled to begin their title defence against Italy on 1st February 2014, time is not on Davies' side, and casts doubt on whether he will be fit to play any part in the tournament.
The blow comes on the day that the Scarlets' man was unveiled by French giants Clermont Auvergne as their latest stellar signing, joining up with former Wales teammate Lee Byrne in the Top 14 outfit's back division.
In a statement, Scarlets Chief Executive Mark Davies said: "For everyone in the region retaining Jon within the Scarlets squad has been one of our highest priorities since the middle of last season.
"Jon's contribution to both our squad, clubs and our schools around the region has always been a real example of the philosophy of the club in encouraging ambition and the development of talent that exists across three counties.
"Whilst we have done everything in our power as a club and as a business to ensure Jon could continue to play his rugby with Scarlets, his outstanding performances on the World stage have of course meant that he has been targeted by several other major clubs with very significant resources for some considerable time.
Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby added: "Jon has established himself in recent seasons as a world-class centre for Scarlets, Wales and now the British and Irish Lions. He has worked hard throughout his career to date and has now shown his ability on the highest of rugby stages having grown into his role as a senior player here in our region.
"He will give his all in his last season with us I am sure and will lead from the front. But for now, our focus is to support Jon as he recovers from his injury and gets back to full fitness as soon as possible."