NRL great Mark Carroll has raised serious concerns about Sam Burgess after revealing the Rabbitohs star's troublesome shoulder "is a mess".
The injury has seen Burgess forced out of the Great Britain end of season squad that will play matches against New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The 30-year-old suffered a recurrence of a shoulder injury in his club's NRL preliminary final defeat by Canberra Raiders in August and is set to undergo surgery in Sydney.
Manly Sea Eagles legend Carroll says he saw Burgess' injury in person last week and is worried about the South Sydney hard man's rugby league future.
“He can only raise that left shoulder to a 45 degree angle. He can’t go 90, he can’t go straight up," Carroll told Macquarie Sports Radio on Thursday.
“He’s got arthritis in that shoulder and it’s pretty hard playing with one arm, he’s a massive piece of the jigsaw puzzle at the Rabbits but it’s very hard playing injured.
“He’s in a really serious position and I really feel that. His movement is horrible.
The nature of the injury is sure to cast doubts over the playing future of the Englishman, who famously won the Clive Churchill Medal in South Sydney's drought-breaking 2014 premiership victory.
The loss of Burgess, who made his Great Britain debut as an 18-year-old against the Kiwis in 2007, is a major blow for Wayne Bennett's team as they prepare to embark on the first Lions tour for 23 years.
"It's very disappointing. He's had an ongoing problem with his shoulder which will probably require surgery," said Rugby Football League rugby director Kevin Sinfield.
"He's absolutely gutted, as are we.
"We've seen how special it is to all our players, Sam having been one of the chosen few previously who have worn the shirt and did outstandingly well in it.
"He's a leader and a real big character in that dressing room and on the field he's world class so we'll certainly miss him.
"It will provide somebody else with an opportunity and hopefully they can grab it."
The RFL announced a 16-man England squad for the World Cup Nines, with 11 players staying on for the Lions tour.
That squad will be boosted by other NRL-based players and representatives from Saturday's Grand Final between St Helens and Salford before it is announced on Monday.
Sinfield confirmed that former Leeds centre Kallum Watkins, now with Gold Coast Titans, was not selected because of a rib injury and a final decision has yet to be made on the fitness of Wigan loose forward Sean O'Loughlin, who is expected to be named captain.
Meanwhile, Sinfield says newly-crowned Man of Steel Jackson Hastings is in contention after belatedly proving his eligibility.
The Salford halfback was born in Australia but like Warrington stand-off Blake Austin has an English grandparent and he lodged papers to prove his qualification a week ago.
"We'd have liked to have it all confirmed a little bit sooner, especially when you consider how quick Blake was," Sinfield said.
"But we understand where Jackson was at and now he's in contention like everybody else."