Lawrence Dallaglio was philosophical yesterday after undergoing ankle surgery to stabilise the fracture he suffered in the Lions' opening tour victory over Bay of Plenty.
Dallaglio's tour was ended 21 minutes into the game at Rotorua, when he slipped into a tackle and was caught awkwardly under a pile of bodies that included Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll and he is set to be sidelined for up to six months.
The loss of Dallaglio, who also suffered injury heartbreak in Australia four years, represents a devastating blow to the Lions' hopes of a Test series victory over New Zealand.
Dallaglio may be 33 next birthday but he came on tour playing as well as ever and was expected to be the inspirational driving force behind the Lions' bid for Test glory.
"I am very, very disappointed that my Lions tour should end in the first match with an injury that puts me out of the whole trip," Dallaglio said from his hospital bed.
"But I've been around long enough to know that injuries are part of the game.
"For me, the tour is over, but for the other players they have a great challenge ahead of them and they know they have my full support."
Dallaglio will have to remain in New Zealand for up to a fortnight before he is a position to fly home.
He is to be replaced in the squad Ireland blindside flanker Simon Easterby, who was at Shannon airport en route to Japan on Ireland's summer tour when the call came through.
"I feel for Lawrence; he was looking so impressive so to go out of the tour this way is a massive disappointment," said Easterby. "But I am relishing the chance to be involved and cannot wait to join the lads in what will be a challenging tour."
Lions head coach Sir Clive Woodward said: "I am gutted for Lawrence, I know how much this tour meant to him, and he was an important part of our plans and the whole of the Lions tour party wishes him a rapid return."
Dallaglio will stay with the Lions party in Auckland until able to fly home.