LUCKLESS Jimmy Cowan will miss the rest of the season with knee ligament damage – but Nigel Davies has backed the All Black to hit top form next term.
World Cup winner Cowan caught his studs in the Franklin's Gardens turf and twisted awkwardly, in Gloucester's 27-11 Premiership victory at Northampton on Saturday.
Initial scans have shown extensive ligament damage, but Gloucester boss Davies said specialists want to know more before making a detailed assessment.
Cherry and Whites rugby director Davies expects the 30-year-old to miss the rest of the campaign.
So after just 15 games since his October arrival, Cowan is likely to face surgery, and will not feature again this term.
Davies explained: "It's ligament damage and we're probably looking at five to six months.
"He's very positive in fairness to him, he's a real competitor.
"He just wants to play and he's going to do everything he can to get back as quickly as he can.
"We're anticipating him not being available again this season.
"We're planning for the worst but hoping for better than that and he'll be battling to be back before the end of the season.
"The specialists still want to examine the scans further before making an exact diagnosis and a definite decision on the next course of action.
"But there's certainly a lot of damage there."
Dan Robson and Dave Lewis will now battle it out for the nine shirt, with Brad Field in line for first team action too.
Lamenting Cowan's rotten luck, Davies admitted two hectic seasons with little break could have contributed to the former Otago Highlander's injury.
After helping New Zealand to the 2011 World Cup on home soil, Cowan ploughed through another domestic season in order to reach the milestones of 100 caps for club side Southland and 50 for his Super 15 side Highlanders, to add to his 51 All Blacks bows.
With little respite after that rare feat, Cowan swapped hemispheres and rolled up his cherry and white sleeves.
Davies said fatigue could have played a part in Cowan's injury – but has tipped him to shine once he returns to fitness.
He continued: "I think I always had a concern about Jimmy because he's played a lot of rugby non-stop really.
"He's come here and been fantastic, his attitude is great, he just wants to play, wants to be part of everything and help move us forward.
"But you've just got to reflect on the type of two seasons he's had really.
"There's clear evidence to suggest that when players are fatigued they are more likely to suffer injury.
"It was pretty innocuous, and you've got to question whether that was partly due to the amount of rugby he's played.
"What we do know about Jimmy is that he will work as hard as he can to get back to fitness as quickly as possible.
"And I'm sure that when he does come back, that we'll see the best of him."