Sam Burgess, Kallum Watkins and Stevie Ward have been ruled out of Great Britain’s upcoming tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The loss of Burgess in particular will likely hit Wayne Bennett’s team hard after the talismanic forward aggravated a shoulder injury in the NRL finals.
While Slammin’ Sam will undergo surgery, Gold Coast centre Watkins (rib) and Leeds Rhinos back-rower Ward (hamstring) will also miss the Oceania tour.
Rugby Football League rugby director Kevin Sinfield, who has chaired the Great Britain selection panel, said: “It’s disappointing to lose players, and they are all gutted to be out of contention for the tour.
“The reaction we’ve had from all players is overwhelmingly positive about the return of GB, and that was the case for Kallum, Stevie and especially Sam, as he’s one of the few guys in contention to have played for Great Britain previously.
“But injuries happen, they test your strength in depth, and they provide opportunities to others.”
Bennett will announce the Great Britain squad on Monday following the conclusion of the Super League season on Saturday night.
The Lions face Tonga in their first match at FMG Stadium Waikato on Saturday 26th October.