GLOUCESTER'S All Black prop Greg Somerville has undergone surgery to re-attach the retina in his left eye.
The 30-year-old, capped 67 times by New Zealand, will be sidelined for more than two months after picking up the injury on his Guinness Premiership debut in Gloucester's 42-12 defeat at London Irish on Saturday.
Somerville underwent surgery at Cheltenham General Hospital yesterday and the operation was carried out by Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Rob Johnson.
"It's unbelievably bad luck, not only for Greg but for the squad because everyone was looking forward to working with him at this crucial stage of the season," said Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan.
"Our thoughts are with Greg because this is a nasty injury and will take some considerable recovery time. He is at a new club and desperate to make an impact for us, on and off the field as a player and a leader.
"We will obviously miss his contribution as a world class player and we wish him well for a speedy recovery."
Somerville made his Gloucester debut as a replacement against Calvisano in the Heineken Cup a fortnight ago before his first start at the Madejski Stadium.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.