Sean McMahon’s return to Super Rugby has suffered a setback with a knee injury to sideline the Melbourne Rebels star for at least another six weeks.
The 22-year-old suffered the injury during his rehabilitation and is expected to keep the back-row out of action until June.
McMahon was set to return after he underwent ankle surgery during the off-season to repair an ankle injury suffered on last year’s Wallabies tour.
"We’re disappointed for Sean after he’s been so diligent during his rehab but the latest incident underlines a frustrating season which has been impacted by injury," Melbourne Rebels general manager football operations Baden Stephenson said.
"The rigours of Super Rugby have taken their toll on the squad with 16 players unavailable from existing long term injuries suffered last year, concussions or other physical contact related injuries."
The Rebels injury toll has been compounded with news that McMahon will be joined on the sidelines by Jordy Reid, while Sefa Naivalu and Amanaki Mafi will be required to pass fitness tests ahead of the clash against the Brumbies. Reid played the last two games with a fractured back before he succumbed to the injury.
A torrid run of injuries has already seen a number of key players miss games for the Rebels this season with more than 320 games of Super Rugby experience still on the injury list.
Wallabies James Hanson, Lopeti Timani, Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete, along with Welsh international Dominic Day and experienced campaigner Mitch Inman, have all missed multiple games this season.
The Rebels have used 32 players in just five games this season – the most of any Australian Super Rugby team – including 11 debutants.
Hooker Jordan Uelese, prop Fereti Sa’aga and lock Murray Douglas, along with Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota last season, has seen the club debut five local players in the last 12 months.
"There’s no hiding from the fact that it’s been a challenging and disappointing start to the season as it’s been difficult to gain consistency and continuity in training and selection."
The Rebels are hoping for some good news with Toby Smith nearing a return to action from a hamstring injury with the Wallaby prop targeting the club’s game against the Kings in Port Elizabeth.