Ireland suffered a setback ahead of their tour to South Africa with the news that first-choice fly-half Johnny Sexton has been ruled out through injury.
According to an Irish Independent report, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is set to confirm the news at a press conference on Thursday, with Sexton's Leinster team-mate Ian Madigan the favourite to replace him in the squad.
Sexton is understood to have undergone surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained in Saturday's PRO12 Final loss to Connacht at Murrayfield and is set to be ruled out for around 12 weeks.
The 30-year-old appeared to suffer the injury during the first half of his side's 20-10 defeat against Connacht. Sexton got up slowly after a challenge from Tom McCartney in the 29th minute and received treatment one minute later after tackling John Muldoon.
He played on however and finished the match, but is believed to have had an operation on Tuesday. When Schmidt announced that Luke Fitzgerald was ruled out of the with a knee injury on Monday he also admitted that he had other concerns.
Madigan replaced an injured Sexton during Ireland's final Rugby World Cup group match against France and also started in their quarter-final defeat to Argentina.
He has been Ireland's back-up fly-half since then, but missed out on selection for the tour to South Africa after announcing his departure to Bordeaux-Bègles.