Catalans Dragons captain Stacey Jones will miss the first month of the new Super League season after undergoing knee surgery.
The New Zealander is a key figure for the Dragons
The scrum-half had cartilage removed on Monday after his knee swelled up during training last week.
But more damage to the knee was discovered during the operation and had to be repaired, ruling him out of action for six weeks.
The Dragons begin their season against Hull on 11 February.
"The injury is a blow to the beginning of our 2007 campaign," said Catalans chief executive Nicolas Rayer.
"But, unlike last year and with a little more depth in our pivotal areas, we will be able to alleviate of the loss of Stacey for the first weeks."
Jones missed three months last season after breaking his arm in his side's second match of the season and in his absence the team won just three of their 12 Super League matches.
Jones' new half-back partner Casey McGuire also sat out Saturday's 38-22 win over a French President's XIII in St Esteve with a viral infection.
They were also without prop forward Mathieu Griffi, who is certain to miss the Hull game with a hamstring pull, and Jamal Fakir, who is still recovering from a career-threatening rupture of the patella tendon.