The Crusaders have announced that Robbie Fruean has withdrawn from the remainder of the Super Rugby season as he is set to undergo heart surgery.
Fruean, 24, requires a further valve replacement as a result of rheumatic fever he suffered as 20-year-old. His cardiac function has been slowly deteriorating over the last six months, with a specialist recommending further surgery.
"Robbie has been closely monitored over the past few months and in conjunction with his specialist team the decision has been made to withdraw him from the remainder of the season and to have surgery," said 'Saders doctor Deborah Robinson.
"While Robbie is facing major surgery he is otherwise fit and healthy which should stand him in good stead for his recovery."
Meanwhile, head coach Todd Blackadder added: "Robbie is a true inspiration to us all. He is positive about his upcoming surgery and is looking forward to getting his recovery underway.
"The Crusaders will miss his presence on the field plus all the laughter he brings to the team off the field. However we are fully behind Robbie and our thoughts and prayers are with him."