Australian rugby medical staff will meet in the coming days to decide if David Pocock should make the World Cup his priority as injury threatens to prematurely end his Super Rugby career.
Another injury setback has cast doubt over Pocock's immediate playing future as he struggles to overcome the calf strain, which has derailed his ACT Brumbies campaign.
Pocock has played just three games and it was hoped he would make a comeback in the clash against the Pretoria Bulls on Friday night to end almost three months on the sideline.
But it can be revealed he will miss at least the next two weeks and may not play for the Brumbies again if officials decide he should target the World Cup rather than trying to rush recovery for the end of the Super Rugby season.
It means Pocock could have played his final game for the Brumbies given the champion flanker is yet to make a decision about whether he will continue playing in Australia after the World Cup in Japan.
There are just four games left in the Super Rugby season before finals, although the Brumbies are hopeful Pocock will be available for the last two rounds and a potential play-off campaign.
"The Brumbies medical staff and the Wallabies medical staff will have a chat over the next few days and we'll come to some sort of clarity there around where he heads over the next few weeks," said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
Asked if the injury would end Pocock's season, McKellar said: "It's all the things we've got to look at to see whether he plays Super Rugby or whether he now puts his attention towards the World Cup. Those are things we've got to discuss between the Brumbies and the Wallabies."
Pocock was left out of the Brumbies team to play the Bulls, with McKellar sticking with the combination of Tom Cusack, Pete Samu and Jahrome Brown.
Emerging Wallaby Wallaby Rob Valetini will make his comeback via the bench and Lachlan McCaffrey will play club rugby after both recovering from knee injuries.
Pocock is also expected to miss the Brumbies' trip to Japan next week, but there is still hope he will be fit for Australian derbies against the NSW Waratahs and the Queensland Reds.
The Brumbies lead the Australian ladder by one point and a fit Pocock would be a massive boost for their finals hopes.
The 30-year-old has played 77 Tests for Australia and 112 Super Rugby games for the Brumbies and the Western Force.
But he has been unable to get to full fitness in what has been a frustrating footnote to his career. The Brumbies took a cautious approach to Pocock's return to play, but he has suffered setbacks every time he got to about 85 per cent fitness.
The Brumbies have re-signed Cusack and are expected to lure NSW flanker Will Miller to Canberra for next season, indicating Pocock may not return to the capital after the World Cup campaign.
Pocock watched on Wednesday when the Brumbies trained as a full team for the first time this week after the bulk of the squad attended a Wallabies planning camp in Brisbane.
The limited preparation to play against the Bulls was a curveball before the Brumbies start their run to the play-offs, with wins and losses to have a major impact on the Australian conference battle.
The Brumbies are on 29 points, the Melbourne Rebels are lurking on 28 points and the Waratahs are two points further back on 26 points.
"The feeling is positive, the boys are excited to be back," McKellar said. "We had a look back at our season to date in the team meeting, showed where we've come from as a group and that really resonates with the boys.
"There's no excuses this week, we've got to be ready on Friday night."
SUPER RUGBY ROUND 15
Friday: ACT Brumbies v Pretoria Bulls at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.
Brumbies: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Faingaa, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Tom Cusack, 7. Jahrome Brown, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Toni Pulu, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. James Slipper, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Murray Douglas, 21. Rob Valetini, 22. Ryan Lonergan 23. Tom Wright.