Cape Town - The Springboks have been dealt cruel blows on the eve of the Rugby Championship with news that captain Warren Whiteley and Frans Malherbe will miss the tournament.
Team doctor Konrad von Hagen confirmed that Whiteley, who has been troubled with a groin injury he picked up in the second Test against France during the June internationals, had surgery last week.
“Warren underwent an operation on Friday and he is feeling a lot better already. He is positive that the operation will be a success,” said Von Hagen.
It is estimated that the injury will keep Whiteley out of action for six weeks.
Prop Malherbe will also miss the competition due to a neck injury.
The front-ranker underwent scans on Monday afternoon in Port Elizabeth to determine the severity of the injury after complaining about stiffness in his neck.
“Frans consulted a neurosurgeon in PE who suggested extended rest for the player, with follow up scans to be done in two weeks’ time,” said Von Hagen.
He will be replaced in the squad by Ruan Dreyer of the Lions.
Von Hagen gave an update on other injured players in the Bok squad.
Scrumhalf Ross Cronje (shoulder injury), hooker Malcolm Marx (bruised shoulder) and flanker Jaco Kriel (flu) all returned to squad training on Monday.
“If Ross can take contact towards the latter part of the week, we will decide on his availability for selection,” explained the team doctor.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard is set to continue with his recovery. “He will carry on with training here in Port Elizabeth, where he is able to continue to work on his fitness and in that way complete his final phase of his rehabilitation,” concluded Von Hagen.
The Springboks start their Rugby Championship on Saturday against Argentina in Port Elizabeth.
The match kicks off at 17:05.