Bristol Bears have confirmed star signing Charles Piutau will be out until late October with an injured shoulder, but will not require surgery.
Piutau, who joined newly-promoted Bristol from Ulster in a reported £1 million-per-season deal over the summer, picked up the injury in the Bears' final warmup match of pre-season.
The fullback was missing for Friday's season-opening win over Bath and saw a specialist consultant on Saturday in order to determine the extent of the injury.
There were fears that Piutau would be ruled out for as long as six months and the news was greeted positively by Bears coach Pat Lam.
"We had some really positive news regarding Charles' shoulder following the surgical consult and it's great that he won't be sidelined for too long," Lam said in a statement on the Bears' official website.
"We don't want to lose somebody of Charles' ability for any amount of time, but that's the nature of the sport and it really underlines the importance of having depth and quality in every position.
"Charles is a hugely positive person and he's raring to go with his recovery. He's desperate to play for Bristol Bears and contribute to the team. He will play a big part for the club this season and will be in the mix, battling for a place in the side, in the not too distant future."
The All Black will remain at Bristol for rehabilitation and will work with the club's medical team throughout his return to full fitness.
However, the news is a blow for Lam, as well as Bristol's millionaire owner Steve Lawnsdown, who hopes to turn the Bears into a Champions Cup side this season.
It also leaves Bristol stretched in the fullback department after Luke Daniels, Piutau's replacement, hobbled off during Friday's match due to what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
The Bears withstood significant Bath pressure to win 17-10, in front of a record crowd of 26,000 at Ashton Gate.
Alapati Leiua's 73rd-minute try gave Bristol a clear lead, shortly after the Bears were restored to 15 men following Tusi Pisi's yellow card.