Injuries are part of the game and this now provides an opportunity for someone else to stake a claim
Springbok No.8 Pierre Spies has been ruled out of the Rugby Championship because of an injury to his left ring finger which will require surgery.
Spies, who played in his 50th Test against England in Port Elizabeth in June, injured his finger in the Super Rugby play-off against the Crusaders last month.
According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, initial X-rays did not reveal any significant abnormality.
"However, on review and further investigation, including a CT scan and assessment by a hand specialist in Cape Town, it was found that Pierre had a fracture into the joint," said Roberts.
"Surgical correction is needed in order to prevent permanent damage. The usual rehabilitation time for these kinds of injuries is eight to 12 weeks," he explained.
At this stage, Spies will not be replaced in the Springbok squad currently preparing for the opening Test of competition on Saturday at Newlands against Argentina.
"We have faith in the players in the squad and will consider the call-up of a possible replacement at a later stage," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
"Losing Pierre is obviously a setback, because he is the most experienced member of our forward pack, but we will never take any risks with injured players. Injuries are part of the game and this now provides an opportunity for someone else to stake a claim," Meyer added.
Spies joins four other Springbok loose forwards that are currently not available for selection. Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are injured, while Ryan Kankowski is not available because of club commitments in Japan.
The only other players in the squad with any experience at No.8 this year are Keegan Daniel and Siya Kolisi who played there once for the Stormers.
This surely leaves the Sharks captain as favourite to take over duties at the back of the scrum, although both Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts also have experience in the position.