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.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.