Munster have been forced to plan without Christian Cullen for most of the upcoming season after complications emerged with the former All Black's shoulder injury.
Cullen, who joined the province on a three-year contract in 2003, missed the end of last season and Munster's run to the Celtic Cup title when injurying his left shoulder (torn ligaments) against Cardiff in March.
A Munster statement confirmed: "Complications have occurred with Christian's injury, and are being assessed by the medical team. Christian will not be available to resume playing for Munster until February 2006."
That means Munster will have to negotiate a tricky Heineken Cup Pool 1 without the 58-times capped New Zealand full-back, who turns 30 in February.
Cullen also missed most of the 2003/04 season for Munster due to a shoulder complaint, but came into form last season, scoring twice in the Heineken Cup and bagging eight Celtic League tries before being sidelined.
Meanwhile, returning Munster coach Declan Kidney has named a largely experimental 24-man squad for Friday's pre-season friendly against Northampton Saints at Thomond Park (kick-off 6.30pm).
With the majority of the province's Ireland internationals currently in camp with coach Eddie O'Sullivan, prop Tony Buckley and number 8 John O'Sullivan look set for their debuts, while lock Mick O'Driscoll returns after a spell with Perpignan.
Forwards: Frank Roche, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Denis Fogarty, Eugene McGovern, Donnacha Ryan, Brian Madigan, Mick O'Driscoll, John O'Sullivan, Johnny O'Connor, Stephen Keogh, Frank Cogan, Anthony Foley.
Backs: Ben Martin, Barry Murphy, Paul Devlin, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson, Ian Dowling, Mossie Lawlor, Jeremy Manning, Paul Burke, Frank Murphy, Mike Prendergast.