Wales Under 19 skipper Ioan Cunningham is out of the IRB/FIRA-AER Junior World Championships.
The brilliant Llanelli blindside flanker damaged ligaments in his right knee in leading Wales to victory over Italy at the weekend and will undergo surgery this week.
After leading the Welsh Schools Under 18 team last year, and playing in the 2001 Junior World Championships, Cunningham was all set to lead the Welsh side to Italy later this month.
Instead, he is facing a six month lay off after captaining his country against Australia Schools, New Zealand Schools, England Under 19, France Under 19 and Italy Under 19.
"It is a cruel blow for Ioan and the team. He has been in great form for us this season and has led the team very well," said Wales Under 19 coach David Rees.
"He will be a difficult man to replace in our 30-man squad for Italy. Everyone connected with the squad wishes Ioan a speedy recovery and I'm sure there are many more internationals to come for him in the future."
Wales kick-off their World campaign with a tough fixture against Georgia in Mirano on Thursday, 21 March. If they win that match they will face the winners of the game between Argentina and Japan.
A special video package as Pontypridd claimed the double for the first time in their history by winning the Principality Premiership final, including match build-up, highlights, post match reaction and dressing room celebrations.