In a savage blow scans on the Wales skipper revealed he could take no more part in the autumn Tests – and he could miss the 2022 Six Nations too.
He was hurt tackling All Black full-back Jordie Barrett 19 minutes into Wales’ 54-16 defeat on Saturday, a re-occurrence of the blow he returned from in a fortnight around the Lions tour in the summer.
Alun Wyn Jones requires an operation following the injury he sustained against New Zealand
A Welsh Rugby Union update said Jones’ recovery would take ‘a number of months’.
There was also a similarly grim verdict on Ross Moriarty. Having been hit in a double-tackle from Nepo Laulala, who received a yellow card, and Ethan Blackadder on Saturday, he injured his collarbone, now must go under the knife and will be out until the New Year.
Taulupe Faletau will not feature this autumn either, released back to Bath having failed to recover from an ankle injury.
The No 8 will be returning to Wales in the summer, with Cardiff set to swoop for him, leaving The Rec where he earns more than £400,000-a-year having joined in 2016.
Forward Ross Moriarty also set to go under the knife and will be out until the New Year
Uilisi Halaholo is likely to miss another Test as well. He is back in camp on Friday, having tested positive for Covid last week.
Despite losing yet more top names Wales should be able to call on Dan Biggar, Ellis Jenkins and Liam Williams for their Test against world champions South Africa on Saturday.
All three are back in training after knocks, but hooker Ken Owens still has to prove his fitness after a back injury ruled him out of the New Zealand game last week.
‘Fingers crossed these guys can come through and be on the team sheet,’ said assistant coach Neil Jenkins who called on replacements to take the game to the Boks.
Taulupe Faletau has also been released after failing to recover from an ankle injury
Willemse; Kriel, Am, de Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, Jantjies, Nche, Mbonambi, Koch, Nyakane, Etzebeth, de Jager, Kolisi, Smith, Vermeulen.
‘You have to stand up, don’t you? Of course, we want our best players fit and available. But with Al injured it’s an opportunity for someone else to play against one of the best sides in the world and some of the best second rows in the world.
‘You can’t go into your shell against this lot because they’ll certainly take advantage. We need to stand up for ourselves on Saturday.’
Replacing Jones and Moriarty Wales have called up 24-year-old flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes, and lock Rhys Davies, 22.
South Africa meanwhile announced their team for the Wales game – with Herschel Jantjies in for injured Faf de Klerk, Damian Willemse for Willie le Roux, and Jesse Kriel coming onto the wing.
Their director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will be in the coaching box, the Boks not expecting him to be banned by World Rugby after his extraordinary referee rant during the Lions tour.