Welsh international Matthew Rees diagnosed with cancer
CARDIFF Blues and Wales international hooker Matthew Rees is to undergo testicular surgery.
The Blues announced in a statement that 32-year-old Rees will have "an enforced spell away from rugby".
Former Wales skipper Rees has won 58 caps and played in the 2009 British and Irish Lions Test series against South Africa. He is the current Blues captain.
The Blues said: "Cardiff Blues have today announced that club captain Matthew Rees is to have an enforced spell away from rugby.
"Hooker Rees, who joined the region from Scarlets this summer, will miss Friday's league trip to Ulster as he will undergo testicular surgery.
"Cardiff Blues would like to take this opportunity to wish Matthew a speedy recovery, and we look forward to seeing him back in action in the future.
"The region will be making no further comment and would ask that the media respect Matthew's privacy at this time."
Rees led the Blues in their stirring Heineken Cup victory over reigning European champions Toulon three days ago.
And he would have been expected to be named in the Wales squad for next month's Tests against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia, which is being announced on Tuesday.
Rees replaced an injured Ryan Jones as Wales captain against Australia in November 2010, and he skippered his country during the RBS 6 Nations Championship later that season.
He missed the 2001 World Cup in New Zealand, though, due to a neck injury and his current Blues colleague Sam Warburton took over as national captain.
Although Richard Hibbard is the current first-choice Wales hooker, Rees had remained an important part of the squad under head coach Warren Gatland.
Rees began his career with Welsh club side Pontypridd before joining the Celtic Warriors until they were dissolved. He then went on to make more than 170 appearances for the Scarlets and linked up with the Blues earlier this year.