The Springboks will be without Francois Louw for the June series against France after the veteran flanker underwent a shoulder operation.
The 31-year-old, who plays for Bath in England, told Netwerk24 that he was likely to be out of action for more or less 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on Thursday.
Louw started nine Tests for the Boks last year, and would have been the favourite to once again wear the No 6 jersey against France.
His untimely injury might open the door for Kings fetcher Chris Cloete, while the Lions' Jaco Kriel, or even Stormers captain Siya Kolisi could now have a role to play at openside flank.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix