Dan Vickerman may have played his last game for the Waratahs and Wallabies, with injury concerns understood to have him seriously contemplating retirement.
High-ranking NSW sources told Fairfax last night the exceptional Test second-rower could be forced to give football away within the next few weeks due to a stress fracture to his leg, and it was highly unlikely he would be involved in this year's Waratahs Super Rugby campaign, which starts on February 25.
A source close to the 32-year-old Test player said a decision by Vickerman on his playing future was expected within days.
Several days ago, the NSW Rugby Union provided an injury list which said Vickerman was not expected to return to the Waratahs until April because of a shoulder injury.
After the World Cup, Vickerman had a shoulder reconstruction to fix up a problem he played with during the tournament.
Vickerman, a veteran of 63 Tests and 92 provincial caps with NSW, the Brumbies and Northampton, was a non-attendee at yesterday's Waratahs season launch in Sydney. Waratahs officials later explained Vickerman was instead getting ''ongoing treatment'' to his leg. Even before the luncheon, sources said Vickerman was ''seriously contemplating pulling the pin''.
Vickerman's unavailability may also explain the unexpected appearance of former Brumbies captain and back-rower Stephen Hoiles at Waratahs training this week. Hoiles was invited to train with the Waratahs after he was released by the Brumbies, and if a forward spot becomes open through the departure of Vickerman, the popular former NSW player may get it.
If as expected Vickerman farewells the Waratahs, it will be an enormous blow for the province striving for its first Super Rugby title, since it was relying on his expertise and leadership skills this season. So highly was Vickerman rated within the organisation that he was recently included in the team's leadership group.