SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 13: Campbell Graham of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the round 11 NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers at Accor Stadium on May 13, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been rocked by the confirmation star centre Campbell Graham will miss up to six months with a sternum injury.

It's the same injury which impacted Graham throughout the course of the 2023 campaign, causing him to miss out on a State of Origin jersey and a host of games for the Rabbitohs in the process.

The Rabbitohs confirmed in a statement he will miss up to six months, meaning a return may not be likely for Graham until July or even pushing into August, by which time the NRL season will be pushing towards its conclusion.

"Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham will undergo surgery next week to repair damage to his sternum which will see him sidelined for up to six months," the club wrote in a statement.

"Graham played through the injury throughout the 2023 season and has trained throughout the pre-season, however, a decision has been made to undergo surgery on the affected area.

"Graham is expected to be back on the field for South Sydney at the back end of the regular season."

Eyebrows will be raised at the club over the management of the injury. Given it heavily impacted Graham's 2023 campaign, off-season surgery and a return in the early weeks of the season could well have been the best policy.

Instead, Graham, an important cog in South Sydney's machine, will now miss much of the 2024 campaign.

The Rabbitohs are still reeling from their dismal 2023 fadeout, which saw the club sink from the top of the table after 11 rounds to missing the finals series.

Defensive issues plagued the second half of the season, and it's little surprise Graham missed a number of those games.

Rated as one of the best defensive centres in the competition, Graham will now likely be replaced by Isaiah Tass, who earns a reprieve as Jack Wighton prepares to take the spot he held last year.

The Rabbitohs open their season in the United States against the Manly Sea Eagles.