The Springboks have suffered a massive injury blow, with powerhouse Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis ruled out for the remainder of the season, while Craig Burden comes into the squad to replace his Durban based team-mate.
Du Plessis injured his right knee early in the game against the Pumas at Newlands. He was taken for scans during the game, which confirmed the diagnosis of an injury to his medial and anterior cruciate ligaments. It will require surgical correction and he will be out for the remainder of the season.
Burden, who plays for The Sharks, was on the official standby list and will depart with the squad from Johannesburg on Sunday morning.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer wasn't positive after the match.
“I don’t really like to talk ahead of the medical assessment but I think that Bismarck will almost certainly be out for the rest of the year,” said Meyer.
“He went for a scan and it appears he has torn ligaments. I don’t want to pre-empt anything before the doctors have had their final say but for the type of injury he has players are normally out for seven to eight months.”
This morning it was confirmed that his medial and anterior cruciate ligaments will require corrective surgery, with a 'best case scenario' time frame for his recover to be at least seven month.
The Springboks responded by called up Sharks forward Craig Burden, who was on the official standby list for the team.
While Adriaan Strauss is a class replacement, and will likely start against the Pumas next week, Du Plessis is rated in many quarter as the best rake in the game, and Meyer said even when he left the field the Springboks suffered.
“Bismarck is excellent at protecting the ball and we missed that but his absence was felt for more than just his ball retention skills,” Meyer said.
“We have a very young pack and Bismarck was important for his leadership and his experience. He is also an excellent ball stealer and we missed that too.”
However in good news for the Springboks, Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn had arguably his match of the season, a class response after many sections of the South African media said he should not be picked as the starting number ten.
“Morne trained really well during the week and I had a feeling that he was going to produce in this match. He played a very good game," Meyer said.
Captain Jean de Villiers, who defended Steyn during the week, said he was proud with how the playmaker had responded.
“Morne is the sort of player who responds well to criticism and the performance he produced in this game is the best way to answer your critics,” said the captain.