Rugby World Cup injury news: North, Morgan, Healy, Naholo
Wales stars on road to fitness, South African injury jinx strikes, All Black hopeful puts faith in Fijian medicine
With the Rugby World Cup round the corner fans and coaches alike are praying that the biggest stars of the game can avoid injury in warm-up matches and training camps ahead of the big kick off in September.
In 2011, New Zealand somehow won the tournament despite losing their talisman Dan Carter during the group stages and then seeing his replacement Colin Slade go lame during the quarter finals. And spare a thought for Welsh centre Morgan Stoddart, who never played for his country again after fracturing his leg in a warm-up match against England. He was forced to retire from the game 18 months later.
South Africa and Wales already have several players on the treatment table, but supporters of every team will be on tenterhooks in the run-up to the tournament opener on 8 September.
Here are some of the big names fighting for fitness:
George North, Wales
When injured: Playing for Northampton in March
Prospects: Should be fit
The Welsh and British Lions winger missed the final ten weeks of the Premiership season after he was knocked out while playing for Northampton in March. It was his third head injury in the space of two months, which prompted fears for his welfare. He did not play in Wales's first warm-up game against Ireland but has taken part in full contact sessions in training.
Jean de Villiers, South Africa
Injury: Broken jaw
When injured: On comeback against Argentina in August
The South African captain's first game back after recovering from a horrific knee injury sustained against Wales in November turned sour when he fractured his jaw in the Springboks' surprise defeat to Argentina. He has been put on a 'soft' diet and will be out for another four to six weeks. However, the South African medical team say he will be able to continue with rehab on his knee during his recovery and could still make the tournament.
Ben Morgan, England
Position: Number eight
Injury: Broken leg
When injured: Playing for Gloucester against Saracens in January
The back row needed two rounds of surgery after breaking his leg in January, the second to remove pins holding the bone together. He missed the rest of the season but began running again during England's training camp in Colorado in July. He resumed contact work in training in early August and could play a part in England's warm-up matches against France.
Liam Williams, Wales
Position: Wing / full-back
When injured: Underwent surgery in June
Prospects: Should be fit
The utility back who can play at full-back or on the wing underwent surgery on a foot problem in June and was a doubt for the tournament. He is now back in training, and while he is unlikely to feature in any of Wales's warm-up games he should be fit for the World Cup campaign, which begins against Uruguay on 20 September.
Samson Lee, Wales
When injured: During Six Nations in March
Prospects: Should be fit, but could miss opening pool games
Prop Lee ruptured his Achilles tendon in the early stages of Wales' 23-16 Six Nations win over Ireland. He underwent surgery and was rated 50-50 for the tournament. He will not be fit for the warm-up games but has been taking part in scrummaging sessions in training.
Duane Vermeulen, South Africa
Position: Back-row forward
When injured: June
Prospects: Should be fit
South Africa's player of the year for 2014, Vermuelen looked a doubt for the World Cup after undergoing surgery on his neck. The back rower suffered a neck spasm during training in June and doctors said he needed to go under the knife. He is now back in training at the Springboks are confident he will be available for the tournament.
Cian Healy, Ireland
When injured: Underwent surgery in May
Loosehead prop Healy had surgery to repair damage to a disk in his neck in May. It has been reported that he subsequently had trouble using his left hand, experienced numbness and was unable to make a fist after the operation. However, the Irish medical team say they are monitoring his progress "week by week".
Tommy O'Donnell, Ireland
Injury: Dislocated hip
When injured: Warm-up game vs Wales
Prospects: Out of the tournament
The 28-year-old Munster forward was stretchered off late on in Ireland's win over Wales on 8 August. It was later confirmed he had dislocated a hip and would be "limited to non-weight bearing activity for at least six weeks", which ruled him out of the tournament with Ireland's first game on 27 September.
Waisake Naholo, New Zealand
Injury: Cracked fibula
When injured: On debut against Argentina in July
The Fijian-born winger underwent a scan following the game against Argentina which revealed a crack in the fibula. All Black coach Steve Hansen said: "He will be out for three months, which means he is going to miss the World Cup which is pretty disappointing for him and for us." However, Naholo flew back to Fiji where he underwent a week of traditional treatment at his uncle's village and, according to the Fiji Times, is in World Cup contention after a miracle recovery.