Cape Town - Springbok and Bath loose forward Francois Louw has been ruled out for three months with a serious knee injury.
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The 32-year-old picked up the injury on December 23 as Bath fell to the Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership.
The seriousness of the injury was not immediately known, but Bath coach Todd Blackadder has now confirmed that he will be without one of his start players for the first quarter of 2018.
The good news from a South African perspective is that the Boks are not in action until June when they host England in three Tests.
Louw has been one of the few overseas-based players backed by Bok coach Allister Coetzee over the last two years, though he played in just five Tests in 2017.