Guinness Premiership leaders Bristol have suffered a major blow with the loss of their former England hooker Mark Regan for up to six weeks.
Regan, who played pivotal roles in the opening league wins against Bath and Newcastle, broke his thumb during the Newcastle Falcons clash and has undergone surgery.
"Mark has had it operated on and the surgery went well, so we are looking at maybe six weeks for him, aiming at the European games against Narbonne and Northampton (in late October)," said Bristol physiotherapist Paul Tompkins.
"It is a blow, and he is understandably gutted with the team going so well."
Regan, a member of England's World Cup-winning squad, is set to miss Premiership appointments with Gloucester, London Irish and Saracens, plus Powergen Cup clashes against Bath and Gloucester.
Conor O'Shea will lead his side to matches against Fiji and Australia
30 March 2017, 2:36pm
After a disappointing RBS 6 Nations campaign for the Azzurri - losing all five of their Championship matches and picking up their 12th Wooden Spoon - they will be licking their wounds ahead of their summer tour Down Under.
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.