Luke Burgess' World Cup hopes have been dealt a hammer blow after he suffered a serious shoulder injury in training.
The South Sydney prop will miss most of the NRL season after undergoing surgery to repair damage to the labrum and capsule in his shoulder.
The 25-year-old is not expected to return to action for at least six months.
"This is definitely a setback for Luke but he takes a highly professional approach to his football and we know he will do everything he can to return as early as he can," said South Sydney coach Michael Maguire.
"We have a good team of medical staff and trainers here at Souths and they will make sure that 'Biffa' returns in top shape."
Burgess' injury could improve the first-team chances of younger brothers George and Tom this season.
Tom left Bradford at the end of last season to follow Sam, Luke and his 20-year-old twin George to the famous Sydney club.
Luke Burgess was called into England coach Steve McNamara's squad for the 2012 autumn internationals as a replacement for the suspended James Graham and went on the high-altitude training camp to South Africa, but was not used for any of the three matches.
Sam missed that series through injury but will be an automatic World Cup selection, as long as he is fit.
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