Warren Whiteley will not be captaining the Springboks in the upcoming Rugby Championship.
The inspirational Lions skipper’s return to competitive action has been delayed after his groin injury didn’t heal sufficiently.
He’ll now have an operation and is only expected to be back in the frame in six weeks’ time.
“Warren’s absence is a massive blow for the Springboks and for him personally,” said Springboks coach Allister Coetzee.
“I really feel for him but I am sure he will get back stronger. It gives an opportunity for another player now and I am sure there will be very strong competition for the No 8 jersey.”
It now looks eminently possible that the Du Preez twins – Jean-Luc and Dan – might be in the frame to play Test rugby together after Dan was chosen as a replacement for Whiteley.
Lock Eben Etzebeth will be the stand-in captain.
While Coetzee has retained most of the members that helped the Springboks to a 3-0 series win over France, there are a few new inclusions with a view to the future.
Notably, Sharks prodigy Curwin Bosch has cracked the nod though his flaming start to the season has dimmed substantially.
“Curwin has shown a lot of promise when playing fullback and flyhalf, and has exceptional kicking abilities,” said Coetzee.
“We will introduce the rookies to the Springbok environment and I am looking forward to working with all them.”
Another new face is exciting Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard probably won’t play initially but has been selected anyway as a way of the coaching staff “to monitor his rehabilitation and conditioning first hand and also to assess his return to play protocol”.
The only overseas-based player is scrumhalf Francois Hougaard with the experienced Frans Steyn not selected due to conditioning considerations.
Forwards – Uzair Cassiem, Lood de Jager, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Lizo Gqoboka, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Beast Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle.
Backs – Curwin Bosch, Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronje, Damian de Allende, Warrick Gelant, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Francois Venter.