St Helens forward Matty Lees has undergone surgery for a perforated bowel, his club have revealed.
The 21-year-old missed the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in August after sustaining what the club called a serious abdominal injury in their Super League win at Leeds nine days earlier.
It has now emerged that Lees is facing an extended lay-off and has already been ruled out of contention for the end-of-season Great Britain tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
St Helens head physio Nathan Mill said: "Matty perforated his bowel during the victory over Leeds Rhinos which resulted in him undergoing emergency abdominal surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.
"The surgery was a success, but Matty will sit out the remainder of the current season and has a long road to recovery.
"The nature of the injury and its rarity and complexity means it will be a matter of taking it stage by stage in regard to his rehabilitation process.
"Our medical team here at St Helens will judge his progression to correctly determine when that means he will return to play.
"The good news for Matty and everyone involved is he is currently stable at home and improving gradually."