The ACT Brumbies were dealt a massive blow late on Tuesday night, with playmaker Matt Toomua ruled out of their crucial clash against the NSW Waratahs.
But Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen insists there is "a lot of value" in the Super Rugby mid-season Tests, despite the three-week international break ripping the squad apart with injuries.
Toomua had scans on his adductor on Tuesday and won't be able to play against NSW at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Brumbies are also set to throw regular prop turn rookie hooker Ruaidhri Murphy into the biggest test of his career as the team deals with a hooker crisis and all three contracted rakes out of action with injury.
Toomua's injury adds to an already worrying injury list, with Wallabies Stephen Moore, Pat McCabe and Sam Carter also out of action.
Toomua's absence means Christian Lealiifano is likely to shift to flyhalf with Andrew Smith looming as the man to move to inside centre.
But former Wallabies captain Mowen says the Brumbies will not use the injuries from Wallabies camp as an excuse, adding that he views the mid-year Test window as an important period for Australian rugby.
"I think there's a lot of value in the June Test window. That's the challenge of footy these days; the seasons are longer than they ever have been," French-bound Mowen said.
"It's great for the three-Test series to bring in different nations. I like it because you get to see teams under pressure each week. There's a lot of merit in it.
"Any side that has won [Super Rugby titles] have had guys sitting out with injuries; teams find a way to the win and it goes back to when the Brumbies did it without Stirling Mortlock."
The Brumbies need to win their last two games of the season to guarantee a finals berth, but could still make the play-offs with one victory.
If Toomua is out of action, Andrew Smith could be injected at inside centre with Christian Lealiifano shifting to flyhalf.
Luckless McCabe's shoulder injury will likely mean Jesse Mogg gets his chance to impress at fullback while Clyde Rathbone and Robbie Coleman are competing for a wing spot.
The Brumbies resumed training on Tuesday after a mixed break from Super Rugby duties.
Four players were injured while with the Wallabies, third-string hooker Josh Mann-Rea has a grade-one hamstring strain and Joseph Tomane's comeback from a fractured cheekbone has been delayed for another two weeks.
Mann-Rea and Moore's injuries leave the Brumbies without a recognised hooker and thrusts regular prop Ruaidhri Murphy and veteran Luke Holmes into contention for the No. 2 jersey.
Murphy appears to have the edge for a starting berth, despite having never played the position, because he has been with the club for three years while former Waratah, Western Force and Melbourne Rebels rake Holmes was drafted in as injury cover two weeks ago.
“I back the guys who we’ve got coming off the bench, whoever they might be. It’s about opportunity, for whoever comes into that game at hooker be it Ruaidhri Murphy or Luke Holmes, whoever starts has a chance to stamp themselves on the game," said lock Scott Fardy.
“You can’t be Steve Moore, you can’t be Siliva Siliva, but those guys can play their own game, to the best of their ability and make an impact on this game."
The Brumbies have statistically one of the best lineouts in Super Rugby, led by Mowen.
The Brumbies will also be boosted by the return of Test prop Ben Alexander, who has recovered from a neck injury to take his place in the front row.
"Ben Mowen is still organising the lineout, so the only thing that changes is the hooker," Alexander said.
"The Waratahs would be silly not [to target the lineout]. We've got three [hookers] out, so we expect they'll attack us there.
"But if we do the work, we're confident the blokes that get picked will do the job for us."
The story Brumbies say Test break still has value as Matt Toomua ruled out first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.