John Mulvihill admits the loss of Willis Halaholo to a serious knee injury is a major blow to both Cardiff Blues and the player.
The star centre, who had been in line to get his first taste of international rugby against the Barbarians this weekend, suffered the injury in last weekend’s European Challenge Cup defeat to Leicester Tigers.
Scans on Monday confirmed the 29-year-old had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and will he will now face an extended period on the side-lines.
Mulvihill was disappointed to lose the hot-stepping centre but insists Cardiff Blues can cope thanks to their midfield resources.
He said: “It’s really disappointing to find out Willis will be out of action for the rest of the season and for him personally it is a massive blow.
“He has worked incredibly hard since I have been here, and he deserved his chance at international level. To have that taken away from him by injury is cruel.
“He will now have the best possible care from our medical and strength and conditioning teams, and the support of all his colleagues at Cardiff Blues, as he begins a lengthy rehabilitation process.
“Fortunately, centre is an area where we have some strength. Losing Willis is undoubtedly a blow, but it also offers opportunity for others.
“Rey Lee-Lo is one of the best centres in European, Garyn Smith and Harri Millard are young players with a lot of experience and Ben Thomas is another with a huge amount of potential.”
The injury to Halaholo is just the latest set-back to hit the region in recent weeks with a number of other players on the sidelines.
In the forwards, both Kristian Dacey and Rory Thornton have undergone surgery on foot and wrist injuries respectively.
Dmitri Arhip continues his recovery from a ruptured bicep while Nick Williams (hamstring), Olly Robinson (shoulder) and Corey Domachowski (ankle) will be short-term absentees. Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins also continue their rehabilitation programmes.
Mulvihill added: “There are always points in the season where your squad is really tested but this is an opportunity to give our young players further experience.
“In recent weeks we have seen the likes of Keiron Assiratti, Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham and Ben Thomas stand up and they have done really well.”