Australia captain Darren Lockyer has had his season ended early after injuring his knee in the Brisbane Broncos' National Rugby League 24-16 win over North Queensland.
The defending NRL champion confirmed that their talismanic leader will undergo surgery during the next week after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament on Friday night.
Club medical staff said the champion five-eighth would be sidelined for between six and nine months.
The news is a massive blow to Brisbane's chances of defending their NRL title and will force Australia selectors to pick a new No. 6 and captain for the October international against New Zealand.
Lockyer, regarded by many as the best player in the game, achieved a rare trio of honors last season when he guided Brisbane, Queensland and Australia to their respective titles.
Broncos club doctor Matt Hislop said Lockyer played on after sustaining the damage in the first half. He had to be helped off the field three minutes from full-time.
"I am disappointed but I can't do anything about it," Lockyer said.
"Sometimes things like this happen. I have seen a lot of my mates have to go through things like this.
"It is going to be a whole new challenge for me. Personally I have moved on and am thinking about being back playing for the Broncos in 2008."
Lockyer had only just been confirmed as the Australian invitee for the New Zealand All Golds historic tour of Britain later this year to celebrate the centenary of rugby league.
Ironically he was replacing former Australian halfback Andrew Johns who had withdrawn from the side after a neck injury had forced his early retirement.