Cape Town - Springbok flank Francois Louw has sympathy for fellow loose forward Duane Vermeulen whose Rugby World Cup participation has been thrown in doubt by a neck injury.
Vermeulen will have surgery on Wednesday on the same problem that sidelined Louw during the Rugby Championship last season, and then faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup in England.
Louw knows how Vermeulen feels, literally, but bounced back from his surgery to help Bath to the final of the Premiership in England in May where they fell short against Saracens.
He is expected to regain his place in the Springbok side for the exhibition game against a World XV in Cape Town on Saturday, the first of five matches before the World Cup starts on September 18.
"I had a bit of a scare last year towards the end of the Rugby Championship when I had surgery on my neck, and coming back from that, finishing the season up in Europe solidly with Bath and to be involved here now is fantastic," Louw said.
The 30-year-old said the demands of the modern game put added strain on the bodies of players and injuries were harder to guard against.
"It's very sad about what has happened to Duane, he is not the first player who has gone through something like that.
"The modern game really demands a lot of the body and there seems to be quite a few neck injuries now.
"Unfortunately, surgery is required but I am sure that he will bounce back stronger. It is bad timing obviously. I know he is absolutely distraught not to be here and involved in this important year. He is in our thoughts."
It means South Africa start the season without two of their regular back row three with Willem Alberts also sidelined, but Louw has backed the depth built up in the squad over the last few seasons.
"Whatever combination you go with on the day, it's important to understand each player, to be able to perform to the best of your ability but also to help that guy with his role," Louw said.
Flyhalf Pat Lambie was taken to hospital during Tuesday's training session with a deep cut above his eye. His availability for Saturday will be assessed on Wednesday.