SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Liam Gill of the Reds is tackled by Tatafu Polota Nau of the Waratahs during the round 18 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Reds at Allianz Stadium on June 13, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Backrow warrior Liam Gill has been grounded for a month with a lower back stress fracture that has spun a crisis into the Red ranks before Saturday night's season opener against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

The standout flanker is an irreplaceable factor in the Reds cause not just because he forced the most turnovers (30) in Super Rugby last year but because his breakdown skills stifle the quick flow of attacking sides like the Israel Folau-fired Waratahs.

Gill, also recovering from a shoulder issue, was an onlooker at training to start the week when the versatile Curtis Browning filled in at flanker. He will be the replacement for this scene-setting game.