Richie Gray will not feature for Scotland in the Autumn test series after suffering an injury relapse, and he faces a battle to be fit for the NatWest Six Nations in the spring.
Having missed the opening six weeks of the campaign, the 29-year-old lock made his first appearance of the season for Toulouse against Agen in the final Top 14 game before the break for European action.
His involvement appears to have been accelerated by the club’s personnel problems in the second row, with Piula Faasalele suspended until late November and Iosefa Tekori unavailable because of injury.
Gray made a solid 59-minute contribution in a hard-fought win and seemed to have confirmed his return to fitness.
Toulouse coach Ugo Mola had intended to name the Scot in his side for the trip to face Bath on Heineken Champions Cup duty, a match Toulouse won 22-20 after Maxime Medard dislodged the ball from Freddie Burns’ hand as the Bath full back prepared to touch down for what would have been the winning score.
However, Gray was forced to withdraw from the squad with a recurrence of the problem that had delayed his start to the season.
He will now undergo an operation on his back and is expected to be absent for three to four months.
The 63-times capped player also underwent back surgery last year, missing the opening part of the season and making his first appearance on 30 December.
He went on to play in nine Top 14 matches, helping Toulouse to the play-off semi final, where they lost to eventual winners Castres – Gray’s former team.
He also appeared in one Challenge Cup fixture and made an appearance for Scotland off the bench against Italy during the Six Nations.