Wallabies and Brumbies inside centre Pat McCabe has been ruled out of rugby for the remainder of the year after consulting specialists in Sydney.
The 25-year-old re-injured his neck during last Saturday's opening Test of the Lions tour, after first sustaining a fracture on last year's end-of-year tour.
Although the injury represents a re-occurrence of the original fracture, specialists have warned against dismissing the incidence as career ending.
"It's unfortunate that having completed the healing process from last year's injury, that it has happened again," said Wallabies doctor Warren McDonald.
"But there are a wide course of options open to Pat, which will be considered once the rehabilitation has been completed.
"The fracture that has partially opened up is expected to repair itself and strengthen.
"This does not mean that Pat will not be able to return to the rugby field and be able to feel comfortable taking contact.
"The specialist advice is that a return is viable pending the full recovery and strengthening of the neck.
"Only time can do that, but we will be monitoring it closely throughout the healing process.
"There is certainly no way that Pat will be returning to the game without a thorough assessment process to ensure he can have full confidence in the bone that has fractured."
The initial stage of the rehabilitation will involve McCabe again donning a neck brace for a minimum of six weeks, stabilising the injury, before further assessment is made.
McCabe, who debuted in 2010 against Italy at Florence, was featuring in his 20th Test last weekend, but his first since the initial injury, which was sustained against France in Paris last November.
He had previously featured for the Brumbies, both at Academy and Super Rugby level, prior to earning his call up to the national side.
The Brumbies stalwart is philosophical about the setback, noting that it "could have been a lot worse".
"It was encouraging to hear the specialists being positive both about the recovery process but also the possibility that I could be able to return to the playing field," McCabe said.
"It is human nature to think the worst but I'm in good hands medically. We'll see how the rehabilitation goes and take it from there. I'd obviously like to get back into it, but I'll be taking no chances with my health either.
"Hopefully things will go to plan, I'm pretty confident they will. I think I've got plenty of games left in me.
"For now, I'll be concentrating on getting the recovery right while supporting both the Wallabies and Brumbies as much as I can."