The pre-Rugby World Cup injury woes of South Africa increased this week with star scrum-half Fourie du Preez sidelined for between four and eight weeks.
A Johannesburg media briefing was told that the 2007 World Cup-winner suffered a knee ligament injury last week while training with Japanese club Suntory Goliath.
South Africa begin a five-match countdown to the World Cup in England during September and October by playing a World XV on July 11 in Cape Town.
Rugby Championship fixtures away to Australia (July 18) and at home to New Zealand (July 25) and Argentina (August 8) follow.
An away Test against Argentina on August 15 concludes the Springboks’ match preparations ahead of a quadrennial tournament they have won twice.
Du Preez, 33, has confined his non-Test career to Japan since the 2011 World Cup, not playing in the annual Super Rugby southern hemisphere championship.
But he remains a favourite of coach Heyneke Meyer, receiving international call-ups in the past two seasons.
South Africa will choose three World Cup scrum-halves with Du Preez a certainty if fit and Ruan Pienaar, Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige contesting the other slots.
The Springboks are in Pool B at the World Cup with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States. – Agence France-Presse