Worcester Warriors have today confirmed that New Zealand centre Sam Tuitupou will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the Guinness Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons.
Tuitupou, known to his army of fans as the Pocket Rocket, has become a cult figure at Sixways Stadium since his arrival from Auckland Blues in 2007.
The dynamic 26-year-old midfielder, who has played on nine occasions for the All Blacks, has made 35 appearances for Warriors and scored 12 tries.
Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock said: "It's a major blow for Sam Tuitupou and the team.
"What's amazing is that Sam was able to play on against Newcastle after such a trauma, but that typifies the toughness of him as a player and the steel that will be missed during the period that he is out.
"However, Sam is already very determined to get the injury right before the medical timescale and we will give him the very best support possible during this time out."
Tuitupou will see a leading orthopaedic surgeon next week for an ACL reconstruction and is expected to make a full recovery and be available for pre-season training next year.
The Auckland-born centre is scheduled to spend the first six weeks of his rehabilitation at Warriors and is then expected to return home to spend time back in New Zealand. There he will work with the Auckland Blues physiotherapists and conditioners, as has always done when he has returned home, before returning to Warriors in May.
"Sam has played a lot of rugby over the last few years and so this unfortunate enforced period away from the game will give him the chance to work on his strength and conditioning in the gym," added Ruddock.
"We now will get an even more powerful Sam Tuitupou back on the field for the start of next season and we wish him every success with his return to full fitness."
Niall Annett and Phil Dowson are among three changes to the Warriors starting line-up for their trip to Franklin's Gardens to take on Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership this Saturday (kick-off 3pm).