THE Western Force have been dealt a cruel blow with gun scrum-half Ryan Louwrens ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Louwrens lasted just nine minutes during his side's 24-15 loss to the Auckland Blues at Eden Park on Saturday afternoon, before limping off and being replaced by Michael Ruru.
Scans have revealed that Louwrens has ruptured his ACL and will spend the rest of the year on the sidelines.
The 26-year-old had been in career-best form, with many predicting a Test jersey was just around the corner given his impressive start to the season.
In his absence, it's expected versatile playmaker Ian Prior will return to his regular position at scrum-half, leaving Ruru on the bench, for their must-win match against the Kings on Sunday afternoon (4.05pm AEST).
Prior had been filling the role as the team's reserve fly-half, but has played the bulk of his career in the No 9 jersey.
Luke Burton, 23, is likely to compete with veteran Springbok fly-half Peter Grant for the reserve playmaking jersey.
In other injury news, Force captain Ben McCalman will likely be named for his first match of the year after recovering from a thumb injury.
Wallabies lock Adam Coleman is still a few weeks away from returning from a calf injury, but is targeting a round-nine return against the Chiefs.
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