ʻIkaletahi captain Nili Lātū, who skippered Tonga at last year’s World Cup, has undergone knee surgery and expects to be fully recovered in about four months.
The 34-year-old was injured during Tonga’s Pacific Nations Cup campaign last month.
He told Kaniva News the surgery went well and he will now be concentrating on his rehabilitation.
He said his doctor hopes he would be fully recovered before he could return to the field in November, two months after his Newcastle team begin their Premiership campaign at home against Sale Sharks on September 2.
“Nili suffered knee ligament damage playing in Tonga’s last Pacific Nations Cup game, and was operated on yesterday,” Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards told the club’s official website.
“Obviously it is a disappointing blow to lose a player of Nili’s quality for that length of time, but at the same time it is an opportunity for other guys.
“We have a lot of players coming through – Harrison Orr has joined us and made a very good first impression – but with David Tameilau not yet here from America, there is no denying it has left us a little bit short in the back-row.”