Coach Allister Coetzee has suffered his first major injury blow at the Springboks.
This after lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was withdrawn from the national squad ahead of their first Test against Ireland at Newlands this month.
Du Toit suffered a grade two hamstring tear while on duty for the Stormers in their 31-24 win over the Cheetahs in Cape Town last weekend.
His place in the squad will now be taken by Lions ace Franco Mostert, opening the door for the Sharks’ Stephan Lewies, who has one Bok cap, to step into Mostert’s boots in the SA “A” squad that will face the England Saxons.
While it will be a major blow to Coetzee, it will also help ease a possible selection headache for the Springbok boss in the middle of his engine room.
Du Toit has been performing consistently well for the Stormers this season and has been one half of one of the best combinations in the tournament – the other half being Eben Etzebeth.
But it would have been tough for former Stormers coach Coetzee to select the duo in his run-on XV for the Ireland match at Newlands, with SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2015, Lood de Jager, also pushing for a place.
The injury will allow Coetzee to go with the pairing of Etzebeth and De Jager, who last started a match together in the World Cup semifinal defeat to the All Blacks last year.
Still, it was Du Toit that stood out since his move from Durban to Cape Town at the start of the season, while Etzebeth and De Jager haven’t exactly seen eye to eye – evident by their scuffle in last weekend’s derby between the Stormers and the Cheetahs.
Meanwhile, prop Trevor Nyakane underwent a scan to his shoulder, while centre Jesse Kriel also missed the Springboks’ first training session of 2016 on Monday after he suffered a bruised sternum in the Bulls’ heavy defeat to the Lions last weekend.