Jason White breaks leg during New Year's Day training

JASON WHITE suffered a horrendous beginning to his 2010 when the Clermont and Scotland back-row broke his leg in training on New Year's Day. White fractured his tibia during a run-out with his club ahead of a French championship match with Toulon this afternoon.

He underwent surgery yesterday and is expected to be missing from action for a minimum of three months and will therefore play no part in the upcoming Six Nations, which begins with a match against his home from home, France, at Murrayfield on 13 February.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson, preparing for his first Six Nations since taking over from Frank Hadden in June, said, "Jason had an operation this morning and we wish him a speedy recovery."

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The flanker will be 32 in April and there will no doubt be questions raised as to whether he can come back from this injury and be the player he was. White has not been lucky through his career. In the autumn of 2006 he suffered a terrible anterior cruciate ligament tear and missed almost a year. Some would argue that since that injury he has not possessed the same kind of power in his game that earned him a reputation as one of the most forceful forwards in the European game.

The veteran of 77 Tests, White has had to content himself with a place on the bench so far in the Andy Robinson era and, indeed, he has also spent more time than he would have wished sitting among the reserves at Clermont. After transferring from Sale in the summer, White began the French championship in fine form and managed to win a regular place in his new club's back-row despite the heavy competition from some formidable team-mates.

Clermont boast the hugely impressive Julien Bonnaire at blindside, the highly regarded Alexandre Audebert at openside and the cult hero, Elvis Vermeulen at No.8. They also have a number of young guns tipped for stardom buzzing about the scene.

White, though, cemented his place at blindside in the opening matches of the championship, starting five of Clermont's opening six games and turning in an eye-catching performance on the day Clermont beat Toulouse in a top of the table collision. The autumn internationals checked his progress, however. While White was away on Scotland duty, Clermont carried on nicely without him. Domestically he has only 40 minutes of rugby in the last month, coming on as a sub against Montauban a fortnight ago. He's been in and out in the Heineken Cup also, beginning just one of Clermont's four pool games so far, albeit in a thrilling 40-30 victory over the Leicester Tigers.

This is a huge personal blow to White but Robinson will also feel his loss in the coming months. Even if White is seen by the Scotland coach as an impact substitution he was still a key man in the squad, a sizeable influence on the younger players and something of a sounding board for Robinson. As a former captain of his country, his experience was important to the coach, but that is lost now.