RHYS Priestland will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a ruptured Achilles.
The Scarlets fly-half will be out of action for at least six months, ruling him out of both the Six Nations and the British Lions tour of Australia next summer.
Priestland suffered the injury during Saturday’s Heineken Cup defeat to Exeter at Parc y Scarlets.
It means Wales interim coach Rob Howley will be looking for a new fly-half for the Six Nations, with Dan Biggar and James Hook the two leading candidates.
Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby, who suffered a similar injury as a player said: “It’s a big blow for Rhys and for our region to lose a player of his quality and influence in our team.
“He was coming through well in the last couple of games of the autumn, put in a strong performance against Australia and was making a real impact in our game against Exeter – so it’s very difficult for him to take; but he’ll get plenty of support from here throughout the injury period.
“I am sure that a player of his experience, intelligence and ability will deal with this very well and after a couple of weeks away to recover from the surgery will be back and can be a very positive influence in our environment.
“He’s a committed Scarlet and a player with a very good rugby brain and there will be a lot he can do to work in and around our environment to help the team, some of our younger players and in our preparations for games during rest of the season.
“We all want to show him as much support as we can right now, it's going to be a tough few weeks for him to accept what's happened but the boys here are a very close-knit group so I’m sure that will be a positive for him.”