Sydney - In-form Melbourne Rebels backrower Scott Higginbotham was on Wednesday ruled out of this month's Test series against the British and Irish Lions with a serious shoulder injury.
The Rebels captain was named in coach Robbie Deans' initial 25-man Wallabies squad to face the Lions and would have been a certain starter had he not dislocated his shoulder in Saturday's game against the Reds.
Tests on Monday revealed serious damage and the imposing forward will sit out the rest of the Super Rugby and Test season, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said, describing it as a "bitter blow" for the Wallabies.
"Scans revealed extensive ligament damage, which meant a full shoulder reconstruction is required," the ARU said in a statement.
"The rehabilitation timelines are such that he is not expected to be fit to return to play until the start of next year's Super Rugby competition."
Higginbotham was replaced in the Wallabies training squad earlier this week by Western Force's Ben McCalman, who has 21 caps but missed last year's Test season due to injury.
The Wallabies squad of 25 will be extended to 31 with a final six players added on June 11.