Johannesburg - Warren Whiteley will not play Super Rugby this weekend, which effectively rules him out of South Africa's June Tests against Wales and England.
The Lions No 8, who was the Springbok captain at the start of the 2017 international season before injury struck, was hoping to end a long spell out with a knee injury by playing against the Stormers in Cape Town, and getting a chance to impress Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.
But the injury-plagued 30-year-old was not included in the Lions' match-day 23 with an official telling reporters "Warren is not yet ready to return".
Whiteley had skippered the Springboks only twice when a groin injury sustained in a home Test against France last June sidelined him for the rest of the year.
His latest injury setback occurred this March against the Blues in Super Rugby with disastrous consequences for the Lions, who lost the match and five others since.
Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth, who took over from Whiteley as national team skipper in 2017, has not played since being injured against Wales in Cardiff last November.
There has been much speculation as to who might lead the Springboks against Wales in Washington on June 2 and in a three-Test home series against England from June 9.
Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard and Stormers flank Siya Kolisi have been mentioned as possible captains ahead of the squad announcement in Cape Town on Saturday night.