Sandover Medal prospect Brendan Lee is set to miss the first half of the season after having an operation this week to repair a finger broken in East Perth's last scratch match.
The Royals captain damaged his left ring finger tackling a Swan Districts opponent in the final minutes of the match at Steel Blue Oval last Saturday.
He had surgery on Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for up to three months.
"The injury was at the severe end of the scale," East Perth football manager Mark Winnett said.
"There does not appear to be major ligament damage, but he broke it pretty badly. It is a blow for Brendan and us but that's footy."
Lee was the best stoppage player in the competition last season, with league-high returns of 130 clearances and 106 tackles.
He won his second FD Book Medal as East Perth's best-and- fairest player to bookend his success at VFL club Bendigo during his season on Essendon's list.
Lee was one of several East Perth stars, including big men Paul Johnson and Josh Smith, and veteran midfielder Craig Wulff, who were expected to provide the core of a Royals team this season that could include a dozen or more West Coast players.
- Subiaco's dual premiership back man Robbie Forrest will be out of action for the season after undergoing a second reconstruction of the right knee he first injured in 2010.