Worcester Warriors have revealed that flyhalf Jono Lance has broken his back.
The Warriors playmaker saw a specialist this week about the back injury which forced him to withdraw from last week’s European Challenge Cup match against Ospreys.
A statement from the club reads: “A stress fracture of the back has been diagnosed and will take time to heal. Lance is expected to be sidelined for around 16 weeks.
“Everyone at Warriors wishes Jono a full and speedy recovery.”
It is the latest long-term blow for Worcester who lost Number 8 Cornell du Preez, who fractured his larynx after a blow to his throat in September. He was hospitalised for over a month and had difficulties with speech as a result.
Lance joined Warriors on a permanent deal from Queensland Reds during the summer having impressed in a temporary spell at the club late last year.
A two-time Super Rugby winner, with the Reds in 2011 and New South Wales Waratahs in 2014, Lance is an experienced number ten who quickly became a fan favourite at Sixways during his short-term spell.
Lance initially made the move to Sixways in October 2017, featuring eight times in the Blue and Gold, landing 26 points from the tee and establishing himself as a first-team regular.
But the number ten suffered a broken hand in the win over London Irish before Christmas and returned to his homeland.
The 28-year-old, who played for Western Force in last year’s Super Rugby, also starred for Perth Spirit in their 2016 title-winning National Rugby Championship campaign before being called up to the Wallabies touring squad.
After being named on the bench for Australia against France in November 2016, Australia Head Coach Michael Cheika tipped Lance to make his Test debut but an unfortunate injury sustained for a Wallaby XV against the French Barbarians saw him condemned to the sidelines.
Lance also counts New South Wales Country Eagles as a former Club, where he was named as National Rugby Championship Player of the Season in 2015.
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