New Zealand forward Brad Thorn looks set to miss the rest of the Super Rugby season with the Highlanders after tearing his bicep.
The lock, who was just two months into his second season with the Dunedin side, suffered the injury during Friday's 27-20 victory over the Bulls.
It will come as a real blow to the 60-time capped international, who was keen to test his 39-year-old body in the hope of continuing at 40 next season.
But Thorn, whose contract with the Highlanders expires at the end of the current campaign, finds his future in doubt after a club spokeswoman said it was "anticipated" he would miss the rest of the season.
Thorn said last month: "I love the game and the team still want me. It's a ridiculous age to still be playing I know, but I feel pretty good and I still feel like I can mix it and I'll just see how it goes.
"I turn 40 in February and that's been my goal - to play top level rugby at 40 and then I'm out, I'm finished.
"That will either be in New Zealand or in Europe, I'd suggest. It's a great challenge, but it may not happen. If I feel like I've had enough at the end of this year then I'll call it a day."
Thorn is considered one of the most successful cross-code players of all time, having started his career in rugby league with Brisbane Broncos and Queensland before playing internationally with Australia.
He switched to rugby union in 2001 when he signed for Super Rugby side Crusaders and claimed his first New Zealand cap in 2008.
Current club Highlanders have adequate cover for Thorn at lock, with Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Bekhuis and Joe Wheeler all fit and available to step in ahead of their next clash against the Sharks on April 25.