Alex Walmsley has lost a five-month battle to regain full fitness and be part of Saints’ bid to lift the Super League crown at the end of the season.
It’s a body blow to both the player and the club who have acted on the latest piece of medical advice which rules out the prop forward until 2019.
The England international, who signed as new four year deal a few months ago to ward off interest from the NRL, underwent surgery after suffering a fracture to his neck in a Super League game at Warrington in early March and initially the surgeon told him his season had reached a premature end.
But the player refused to give up his fight and had been back in training for several week and able to take part in all aspects of the sport other than full physical contact.
Key to his return was re-growth to a bone but the latest scan, undertaken by a second medical expert, revealed there had been insufficient improvement to allow him to return to full training and take his place in the squad.
Head coach Justin Holbrook said: “It is a massive disappointment for Alex. He had been working so hard in training that he deserved a more positive outcome.”
Saints will now be keeping their fingers crossed that they will receive better news on a further x-ray second row forward Dominique Peyroux is due to undergo in two weeks’ time after suffering a broken arm in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat against the Catalans Dragons.
Until injury ended his 100 per cent appearance record in 2018, he had been one of Saints most consistent and improved players this year.