Cape Town - Experienced open-side flanker Francois Louw will play no part on the Springbok end-of-year tour.
The 31-year-old left the field as early as the 12th minute in the Boks’ disastrous 57-15 Rugby Championship defeat to the All Blacks in Durban recently, with what was initially suspected to be a knee injury.
No subsequent local information was provided on his condition, but Sport24 has established from his English Premiership club, Bath, that is he is a long-term casualty and his mishap is slightly different.
“Francois suffered a hamstring injury which will keep him out for about 10 weeks,” the club’s communications manager Helen Bayes said.
That means Louw will probably play no competitive rugby at all until early 2017, completely side-lining him from the three Springbok Tests in November against England, Italy and Wales.
It is a bigger blow to the Bok cause in Europe than some may realise, as he is hugely-accustomed to northern hemisphere conditions and, in the slower, generally more grinding environment there, doubles usefully as a fetcher and ball-carrier given his 114kg frame.
He is also one of a shrinking stock of Boks who boast previous success against England - their blue-chip opponents on November 12 - at their Twickenham stronghold, as he was in the starting line-up when South Africa pipped them 16-15 under Heyneke Meyer’s coaching tenure in 2012.
Louw’s absence probably clears the way for mobile Lions customer Jaco Kriel to wear the No 6 jersey in the key Tests on tour, although the currently Japan-based player is unavailable for the “warm-up” against the Barbarians at Wembley on November 5 as it falls outside the international window.
There have been rumours that another Lions open-sider, SA Sevens star Kwagga Smith, is also close to a call-up although - like so many team-mates - he did not cover himself in too much glory in the 55-17 Currie Cup semi-final loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
A rookie specialist fetcher who did impress in the cup semis was the Blue Bulls’ Roelof Smit, 23, as he made a suitable nuisance of himself against beaten foes Western Province at Loftus.
Former Bok coach Peter de Villiers appealed earlier this week for the national side to recall, among others, seasoned former Cheetahs favourite Heinrich Brussow, who is also Japan-based these days and was a famous breakdown scourge of the All Blacks during 2009.
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