Cape Town - The Sharks will begin their 2019 Super Rugby campaign without the services of flank Jean-Luc du Preez.
It is a massive blow to the Durbanites, who rely heavily on the physicality that the 23-year-old brings to their pack.
According to SARugbymag, the injury was sustained during Du Preez's three-month loan spell with English club Sale Sharks, where he played with older brother Robert du Preez.
Sport24 reported earlier this month that Du Preez had injured his groin in a clash against Gloucester and that his England stint had come to an end, but it now looks to be far worse that initially feared.
Sale, meanwhile, have expressed their desire to sign Du Preez after the end of the 2019 season.
The Sharks, who were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2018 tournament, open their 2019 campaign with a trip to Tokyo to take on the Sunwolves on February 16.