May 26 (Reuters) – South Africa captain Jean de Villiers will miss the June tests against Scotland and Wales after being ruled out with a knee injury.
The 33-year-old centre withdrew from the team’s training camp and a scan confirmed he would be sidelined for eight weeks, the South Africa Rugby Union said in a statement.
“Losing our captain is a massive setback,” Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said. “Jean has been superb as our leader on and off the field and he was in excellent form as well.
“We will certainly miss him next month …and with Jaque Fourie also ruled out it means we’ll play with a new captain and a new midfield combination next month.
“Luckily we have good depth in the squad at centre, but replacing your captain is always difficult.
“We have a number of good leaders in the squad, but I don’t want to rush a decision on the captaincy as we still have to finalise the squad for June.”
Veteran lock Victor Matfield and Bismarck du Plessis are two possible candidates to take over as skipper for the two-test series against Wales in Durban (June 14) and Nelspruit (June 21) and the match against Scotland in Port Elizabeth (June 28).
De Villiers, whose Stormers team are virtually out of contention for the Super Rugby playoffs, was replaced at the three-day training camp in Durban by uncapped Sharks lock Stephan Lewies.
SARU said it was “hoped” De Villiers would be fit in time to take on New Zealand, Australian and Argentina in the annual southern hemisphere Rugby Championship which starts in August.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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