Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says captain and flanker Schalk Burger will miss at least their first three Super Rugby games.
The return of the Springbok from a long-standing injury was on Monday delayed again after he was left out of the Stormers team for their first Super Rugby match of the season against the Bulls in Pretoria on Friday (19:10 kick-off).
Burger, world rugby's player of the year in 2004, went off after the first 20 minutes of the last Super Rugby with a knee injury that ruled him out of the rest of the season.
In recent weeks, a much-anticipated comeback has been delayed by a calf muscle tear that limited him to a training run at the weekend.
"At this stage of the season I don't want to risk it," the coach told reporters.
The Stormers face a tough opening trio of games with away derbies at the Bulls and Sharks and then a home game against last year's winners, the Chiefs, on March 9.
"We will leave it until after the Chiefs game, when we have our bye, before we reassess when Schalk may be ready to return," Coetzee added.
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jean de Villiers (captain), 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Frans Malherbe, 18. Don Armand, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Dewaldt Duvenage, 21. Gerhard van den Heever, 22. Joe Pietersen