Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit will not play again in 2015 after tearing knee ligaments in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The 22-year-old sustained the injury in the 37th-minute of the match against the Cheetahs, which the Sharks went on to win 27-10.
It was the same injury to the same knee that ruled him out of almost all of the 2014 season.
'Pieter-Steph is devastated,' Sharks forwards coach Brad Macleod-Henderson told The Mercury. 'He is in shock, as are all of us.
'It just seems incredibly unfair that one of the world's best locks will effectively now miss two years of rugby, including a World Cup he had set his heart on.
'He not only had got back to the level he was at before he got injured early in 2014, but had surpassed that form, and everybody in South Africa was excited about the role he would play at the World Cup, and certainly we at the Sharks were thrilled at the impact he would have for us in Super Rugby.'
However, on Monday afternoon the Sharks said Du Toit would see the specialist who operated on the same knee previously, in Cape Town, and that they were hoping it was not a re-rupture of his ACL. A confirmed diagnosis will be made after seeing the specialist.
In other injury news from Durban, loose forward Willem Alberts' hamstring strain will keep him out for another two to three weeks.
Flanker Tera Mtembu, who has cartilage damage in the knee, is seeing a specialist on Monday to determine a treatment plan in conjunction with the Sharks medical team.
Lock Stephan Lewies, who is recovering from knee and shoulder surgery, will be sidelined for another four weeks or so.
Centre Paul Jordaan is progressing well, while lock/flank Etienne Oosthuizen resumed training with the team on Monday.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images