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.
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference