The Melbourne Rebels will be without their top two halfbacks after Luke Burgess joined Nic Stirzaker on the Super Rugby sidelines with a knee injury.

The Melbourne Rebels have been hit by major halfback dramas with former Wallabies No.9 Luke Burgess suffering a knee fracture.

Injured in Saturday night’s thrilling 30-27 win over Queensland, Burgess has suffered a tibial plateau fracture but holds hopes he can return before the end of the Super Rugby season.

The 30-year-old, listed for a six-to-eight week rehabilitation period, will be in a race to recover in time to make the Rebels’ tour of South Africa over the last two rounds.

“We thought we might have seen the end of Luke’s rugby season, so a six-eight week layoff, while not ideal, is certainly far better than what we originally feared,” said head trainer Bryce Cavanagh.

It’s still a severe blow for Melbourne as Burgess enjoyed his best game since round three with a two-try display against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

The Rebels are already without rising youngster Nic Stirzaker who had displaced the 30-year-old before injuring his ankle a fortnight ago against the table-topping Sharks.

Former Australian under-20 halfback Ben Meehan is now in line to take the No.9 jersey in his starting debut against the Waratahs in Melbourne on Friday night.

But the powerful Josh Holmes – who played 45 Super games over six seasons for the Brumbies, NSW and Western Force – is also in the reckoning after signing on from Sydney club Warringah this month.

“Josh has been in terrific form in the Shute Shield, he is hungry for an opportunity and we have confidence in his ability to step up at short notice,” said Rebels’ operations manager Baden Stephenson.