SOUTH Africa lock Eben Etzebeth is likely to be on the lengthy list of absentees for the Test series against Wales, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 22-year-old had been hoping to make his comeback from a foot injury in June but needs around three more weeks of rehabilitation.
Etzebeth, who was nominated for the IRB world player of the year award last year, sustained the injury the Springboks' autumn over France in Paris.
"Eben's situation is a major setback as he's been one of our best players in the last two seasons," said South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.
"We're continually monitoring his injury, because he really wants to play for the Springboks next month. However, he is still young and has a highly promising career ahead and his welfare is the most important to us."
South Africa are already without captain Jean de Villiers (knee), Chiliboy Ralepelle (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Pierre Spies (bicep), Pat Lambie (bicep), Gio Aplon (elbow), Jaque Fourie (ankle) and Adriaan Strauss (suspension).
Shoulder injuries mean that Wales will be without Sam Warburton, Richard Hibbard, Justin Tipuric, Leigh Halfpenny, Hallam Amos and Scott Williams for the two-Test tour along with Rhys Priestland (knee) and Bradley Davies (hamstring).
Wales play Eastern Province Kings on June 10 before taking on the Boks on June 14 and 21.