FORMER Saints star Joe Ansbro has suffered a broken neck in a pre-season friendly.
The London Irish and Scotland centre suffered the injury while playing in a pre-season match against Munster.
Ansbro, aged 26, is in hospital in Cork but is expected to be flown home later this week.
“He’s got a triple fracture of the C1 vertebrae at the top of his spine,” Ansbro’s father Paul told BBC Scotland.
“They’ve put a metal halo on his head that’s got to be in place 24/7 for three months.”
Ansbro Snr said there was “nothing malicious” about his son’s injury, adding that he dived into get the ball and came off worse.
“They did a CAT scan and an MRI scan, and they’ve had a neurosurgeon looking after him,” Ansbro Snr said.
“He was really lucky that it was what they call a stable fracture and there’s no nerve damage. That was the thing they were most concerned about; Joe’s still got movement in his hands and feet.”
Ansbro Snr said he was shocked at the news of his son’s injury.
“Your blood runs cold when you hear about it and it’s something that every parent worries about,” he added.
“It’s a fantastic, rough game and these things, unfortunately, cannot be ruled out.”
The centre has scored three tries in his 11 Scotland matches, having made his debut against South Africa in the Autumn Test series.
He played for the Franklin’s Gardens outfit between 2008 and 2011, making 61 first team appearances and scoring 85 points.