Wales lock Michael Owen saw a five-year dream shattered last night after he was ruled out of the World Cup.
Rising second-row star Owen had been named in the 30-man squad that flies to Australia next Monday but has been forced to pull out because of a bulging disk in his back.
The 22-year-old Gwent Dragons forward, who made his name with Pontypridd, has failed to recover from the problem sustained following a weight-lifting session a fortnight ago and has been replaced by 33-times capped Llanelli lock Chris Wyatt.
"Five years ago I set myself the target f playing in this World Cup so to come this close and miss out is heartbreaking," said Owen.
"I can't believe the timing of this, I really thought I was going to achieve my dream. However as gutted as I am, it is the right decision.
"Even if I had gone to Australia I would only have been able to play in the latter games and if I had taken a knock, it could have resulted in an operation. As hard as it is, I have to look forward to my long-term future and not just take a short-term view.
"But the disappointment is painful and will be even harder when I watch the rest of the lads on the TV thinking I should be there."
Owen's long term view is shared by Wales coach Steve Hansen who said they had taken for the "common sense" option not to risk further injury to the young player.
Hansen said: "At 22, he is still a young man and he has a lot of rugby left to play so we have decided his long term future is more important than his short term future career.
"Michael understands the situation and we are lucky to have an able replacement in Chris Wyatt to bring into the squad.
"Chris was unlucky to miss out on the final 30-man draft and we are pleased to welcome him back on board."
Owen, who has risen up through the age grades, booked his place in Welsh rugby history last year when he became the 1,000th Welsh cap during the summer tour to South Africa.
He went on to play during the autumn internationals against Canada and New Zealand and three times during the Six Nations.
However this is the second time he has missed out on a trip down under having also missed the summer tour to Australia and New Zealand through injury.
Owen's heartache, however, is Wyatt's joy following the disappointment of his surprise ommission from the original World Cup squad. The Scarlets lock has not played for Wales since the defeat to Scotland in Cardiff 17 months ago.
Wales U20 duo Leon Brown and Lloyd Lewis face a busy couple of weeks ahead. Not only will they have a Junior World Championship to take part in, they are both sitting A Level exams during the competition.
Wales U20 face a tough group in the Junior World Championship with France, England and Japan lying in wait but Attack coach Jason Strange and back rower Tom Phillips are looking forward to the campaign ahead.
Angus O'Brien has quickly settled into the Wales Sevens squad after solid performances in Hong Kong and Japan. With two rounds remaining in Glasgow and Twickenham on the World Series, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie chats to the rising star.
Wales winger Luke Morgan has established himself as one of the deadliest finishers on the Sevens World Series. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie catches up with him on the eve of this weekend's round in Glasgow.
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.