Fourie du Preez (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Anyone who saw the state of Fourie du Preez after Saturday's World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand will not be surprised that he has been left out of the squad for Friday's Bronze Final against the Pumas.
His face, quite simply, looked like it had a tennis ball attached to it.
The Boks were battered and bruised, and none more so than their heroic captain.
Du Preez has not recovered from that knock, and as a result his World Cup is over.
And, in all likelihood, so too is his international career.
Du Preez has not officially retired from international rugby, but his words in the week suggested that the announcement will come after the tournament.
"I don't know if that was my last game, I'll see how the injury goes. That was probably my last game. I have got a broken tooth and I will be getting a check on my cheekbone tomorrow, but they don’t think it’s broken," were Du Preez's words after the loss to New Zealand.
If this is the end of the road for the man who has owned the South African No 9 jersey for over a decade, then the Boks will need to think long and hard about how to replace him.
A number of names come to mind - Cobus Reinach, Rudy Paige, Francois Hougaard, Faf de Klerk and Ruan Pienaar - but whether or not any of those players can give the same impetus to the scrumhalf position in the future remains to be seen.
When Du Preez answered the call to lead the Springboks mid-World Cup, the only concern was that he was a little soft-spoken and generally too hushed to provide the on-field leadership expected from a captain.
But those characteristics all contributed towards his unflappability... something the Boks needed desperately at a stage in the tournament where the knives were out after that shock loss to Japan.
Now, with 11 years and 76 Tests behind him, it appears that Du Preez will leave the international stage in that same understated manner.