There will be no Jonny Wilkinson in the Newcastle Falcons line-up when they host Sale Sharks in their Guinness Premiership opener at Kingston Park on Sunday.
But Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates believes his star player will be back in action sooner, rather than later, following successful shoulder surgery this summer.
"Jonny took a very active part in training this week and was close to making the game. But, having spoken to the medical team, we just felt this weekend was a little too soon for him," explained Bates.
Wilkinson is eyeing up a possible third trip with the British & Irish Lions having toured Australia in 2001 and New Zealand in 2005.