Required surgical screw
World Cup-winning Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be sidelined for the remainder of the year.
The extension of his absence from the playing field - it was initially said to be three months - follows surgery on an ankle injury sustained by the No.9 in last Saturday's 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
Du Preez left the field in the first half of the Test.
He was sent for x-rays immediately afterwards and went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed earlier suspicions of an anterior syndesmotic injury.
He will be sidelined for approximately six months.
"It's a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury," said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
"Fourie is also a dynamic leader and one of the vice-captains in our team and his injury is a huge setback.
"Fourie has been brilliant since he returned to the Springboks last year and he will be missed.
"However, this provides an opportunity for other scrumhalves to prove themselves and make the step up when the opportunity arises."
According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, the procedure Du Preez underwent on Wednesday confirmed the syndesmosis was unstable.
"The nature of the injury means he required surgical screw fixation and he will be out of rugby for approximately six months," said Roberts.
At the moment, six Springboks who featured for South Africa in the last year are not available for the Rugby Championships.
They are Du Preez, Jaque Fourie (ankle), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep) and Flip van der Merwe (knee).