The Springboks will be without one of their most imposing players for the series decider against Wales in Cape Town on Saturday.
Assistant coach Deon Davids said on Monday that inside centre Andre Esterhuizen, who featured as part of a new-look Bok lineup in the 13-12 defeat by the Welsh in Bloemfontein this past weekend, has been ruled out with a broken hand.
Damian de Allende was expected to return at No 12 this week, but Davids has speculated that Esterhuizen would be out for up to four weeks.
That could leave the powerful midfielder in a race to be fit for the start of the Rugby Championship, with the Boks set to host the All Blacks in Nelspruit on 6 August.
Speaking in the buildup to the clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, Davids said the defeat by Wales in Bloem – a first victory for them in the Republic – will all but warrant that the Boks revert to selecting their strongest XV.
“It’s always awful to lose in a Springbok jersey. That’s something you don’t want,” he said.
“The team that we selected last week was part of the bigger picture and the plans that we have, and I think that was well communicated to everyone within the squad.
“We have now seen so much about the 42 players in the squad, under pressure in these circumstances, and that gives us the opportunity to make a selection based on the roadmaps of the players and their performances.
“With that in mind, we will select what we think is the best possible side to give us a result this coming Saturday.”