ACT Brumbies and Wallabies star David Pocock says he won't take any "short cuts" to rush back for the British and Irish Lions tour as he faces up to six months on the sideline.
A gutted Pocock ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the Brumbies' 35-6 trouncing of the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night and needs a knee reconstruction.
He has two options – a traditional reconstruction or the revolutionary LARS surgery which can have players back on the field in three months.
Pocock will meet surgeons on Monday to decide which option to take.
If he had LARS surgery Australia's premier openside flanker could conceivably be back on the field to play some part in the Wallabies' series against the Lions in June and July.
But given he's just 24 years old, Pocock doesn't want to risk future complications and will likely opt for the traditional operation where hamstring ligaments are used to strengthen the knee.
"Playing in the Lions tour has been a huge goal of mine, but when it comes to something like your knee you can't risk it or take short cuts," Pocock said.
"My priority now is getting it right and ensuring long term for the rest of my rugby that I've got a strong and healthy knee and I've got to give some thought to after rugby as well.
"I'm not sure how long we're looking at the moment, I'm gutted but I've got to move on so I'm not too grouchy for the people around me."
Most teams would be left struggling after losing a player of Pocock's calibre.
But in a sign of the Brumbies' depth, 110-Test veteran George Smith will fill the No 7 duties as he continues his short-term stint in Canberra.
Smith's contract with the Brumbies expires on May 31 and he will return to Japan to rejoin Suntory with two rounds left in the Super Rugby season.
There could be room to negotiate, but Suntory is Smith's priority and it's understood a player cannot have two simultaneous contracts under IRB laws.
Pocock had to leave the field after just 13 minutes in the clash with the Waratahs.
He felt his knee get "jammed" when getting cleaned out by Adam Ashley-Cooper and he and teammates heard a "pop".
Pocock was recruited to Canberra this season to boost the Brumbies' championship hopes and bid to make the finals for the first time since 2004.
He was also set to play a massive part in the Wallabies' three-game campaign against the Lions and is part of the Australian Test leadership group.
It's the second time in less than a year he's had to overcome an injured knee.
Pocock missed the bulk of the Wallabies season last year as he recovered from cartilage damage. But his torn anterior cruciate ligament is the first long-term injury of his career.
Despite being 24, he's already played more than 70 Super Rugby games and almost 50 Tests.
"Part of why I'm so disappointed is I've loved my time at the Brumbies and my time in Canberra," Pocock said.
"I feel my game was starting to improve . . . our good start to the season and the Lions tour coming up, it's not great timing but I've got to accept it and move on."
Four players from the Brumbies and Canberra Raiders have suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments in the past three years.
First it was Raiders linchpin Terry Campese. Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua suffered the same injury last year as well as Raiders prop Brett White.
Now Pocock is preparing for his long recovery and stint on the sideline. The strong Brumbies rehabilitation program will give him some comfort.
In the past 12 months, 16 Brumbies have had major surgeries and all have made full recoveries.
The club has appointed full-time rehabilitation coach Ben Serpell who works with physiotherapists Hamish Macauley and Byron Field, strength and conditioning coach Gavin Thornley and athletic performance director Dean Benton.
"I've got so much confidence in the Brumbies' medical and rehab department," Pocock said.
"Dean Benton already had a chat to me about that and getting my head around it and using it as a way to come back faster and stronger like Matt Toomua has.
"It's a very long road, but I'm looking at the positives."