Cape Town - Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen appears unlikely to feature in the upcoming three-Test series against France.
Vermeulen picked up a shoulder injury while captaining Toulon in the French Top 14 final on Sunday night.
His side lost the final 22-16 to Clermont and although Vermeulen finished the match in Paris, he was left battered and bruised.
The 30-year-old is expected to join the Springboks in Pretoria on Tuesday, but coach Allister Coetzee is not overly optimistic about the player's chances of being fit.
“Duane picked up a shoulder injury... probably an AC (acromioclavicular). It is severe, but we’ll wait until he comes back tomorrow and our doctor will take him for further scans and see a specialist," Coetzee said at a press conference in Pretoria on Monday.
While not yet confirmed, an informant close to the Toulon camp told Sport24 that Vermeulen had torn ligaments in his shoulder and will need to undergo an operation.
Such an operation, and the recovery time involved, would certainly rule Vermeulen out of the entire France series, which starts at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, and put his participation in the Rugby Championship in serious doubt as well.
The Springboks play their first Rugby Championship match on Saturday, August 19 against Argentina in Port Elizabeth.
Vermeulen played the last of his 31 Tests against Ireland in Johannesburg last year.