BRISBANE Lions have been dealt a major blow, with vice-captain Pearce Hanley out until mid-season. 

Hanley was originally expected to miss 12 weeks following hip surgery on Wednesday, but the news is now much worse.

The surgery to clean up bone and cartilage in the hip was more extensive once doctors examined the injury.

The recovery timeline is now 18 weeks until Hanley is expected to be back playing, around the middle of the premiership season.

Lions general manager of football operations Dean Warren said the extended time off the field was disappointing but absolutely necessary for Hanley's long-term health. 

The 25-year-old was having a strong pre-season, but developed soreness after returning from the Christmas break.

Over the past four years, Hanley has become a crucial cog for the Lions, and is arguably their most damaging player with his speed, evasion and superb ball use.