Leali'ifano out until March
Brumbies and Wallabies midfielder Christian Leali'ifano will be out of action until March next year following ankle surgery.
The centre underwent a further ankle operation on Wednesday, with surgeons removing bone, scar tissue and a plate that was inserted when the centre dislocated the joint in 2012.
Having played through the pain barrier during 2013, making his Test debut against the British and Irish Lions and impressing during Australia's November Tour, Leali'ifano now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
It is thought the 26-year-old will be available for selection again sometime in March, though if his rehabilitation progresses well under the watchful eye of Brumbies rehab coach Ben Serpell, he could make a return sooner.
"We're still not sure when he'll be ready," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham told the Syndney Morning Herald.
"They removed a fair bit of loose bone and they took the plate out. The recovery is up to three months depending on when he can weight bear next.
"If he can't full weight bear for six weeks, you usually double that time until he's back playing.
"It's just a matter of progressing it...Christian's a good healer but there's no timeline on it.
"We've got one of the best rehab guys in the business in Ben Serpell and he does an amazing job."
Leali'ifano's likely replacement at inside centre, Pat McCabe, is also currently out of action as he awaits ARU medical clearance after breaking his neck twice in seventh months.
Meanwhile, scrum-half Nic White went under the knife on Wednesday to remove a plate from his jaw and his wisdom teeth, but will be back training with the Brumbies on Friday, and fit to continue following their Christmas break.
The Canberra-based franchise play their first Super Rugby trial match against the Highlanders on 31st January, with their campaign kicking off in earnest against the Reds on 22nd February.
"At this stage, the only person that looks like they'll be missing for the first round is Christian and he won't be too far off," added Larkham.