Cape Town - Rassie Erasmus' tenure as Springbok coach suffered another blow on Wednesday with confirmation that France-based duo Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn have been ruled out of the three-Test England series.
Still reeling from the 22-20 defeat to an understrength Wales side in Washington DC last weekend, Erasmus' preparations for his first series at the helm took a double hit mere days ahead of kick-off in the opening clash at Ellis Park.
In a short, three paragraph media release, SA Rugby confirmed the pair had been "withdrawn from the Springbok group because of injury", claiming "both players sustained the injuries while playing club rugby in France last weekend".
The injury news will come as a surprise to many considering both players played the full 80 minutes of Montpellier's Top 14 final defeat to Castres last weekend and no prior mention was made of any injury concerns - until now.
The release went on to state, without identifying the nature of the injuries, that both players "went for further investigations and specialist opinions and it was decided to rather withdraw them from the Springbok squad for the series against England".
No details of whether the players would be replaced, nor the length of their layoffs, was mentioned.
Following Saturday's clash in Johannesburg, the Springboks and England will do battle in Bloemfontein (June 16) and Cape Town (June 23).
Whether Du Plessis and Steyn will feature in the Rugby Championship which follows in August, remains to be seen.
Kick-off at Ellis Park on Saturday is at 17:05.