Cape Town - Jaco Taute will be having ankle surgery this week and has been ruled out of the Stormers' Super Rugby season opener against the Bulls at Newlands on February 27.
The 24-year-old picked up the injury in this weekend's 40-15 pre-season win over SWD in George, and the news from the Stormers camp on Tuesday was not good.
"He injured his ankle against SWD and it looks like he'll be going off for an operation on Thursday," Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said from his side's Bellville complex.
"He's certainly out of the Bulls game."
But, with the confirmed surgery, Taute will likely be out for a lot longer than that.
With Damian de Allende also out with an ankle injury until "around mid-April", the Stormers all of a sudden find themselves a little thin at inside centre.
But Fleck is not panicking, and said he will back the players he has in his squad.
"Huw Jones is in the mix ... Jonny Kotze has returned to training. Juan de Jongh will obviously be returning back from Sevens duty," he said of his options at No 12.
"A young kid like Daniel du Plessis is a seriously talented guy and he's coming back from injury.
"It's a young group and we're going to back the youngsters in the group. Injuries are injuries, there is nothing we can do about it.
"They're a bit untimely, because obviously those are two senior players (Taute and De Allende) in the group and they do have a massive influence on the way we want to play and the individuals in the team, but we move on.
"Whoever slots into that No 12 position has got a job to do."