- Three of South Africa's 2019 World Cup final locks are currently sidelined with injury.
- It could be a huge blow to South Africa's chances if the 2020 Rugby Championship goes ahead in November.
- There is still no clarity on when competition will return in South Africa.
When the Springboks won the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, they were blessed with depth of quality in every position, especially at lock.
Because of coach Rassie Erasmus favouring a six/two, forwards/backs split on the bench, he was able to include four specialist locks in his matchday 23, giving South Africa a massive boost in terms of physicality in the engine room.
Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager would finish the tournament as the starters, while RG Snyman and Franco Mostert provided the second half impetus off the bench.
While a date for a return to play in South Africa has not yet been confirmed, all four of the above players, with the exception of Mostert, are now injured.
With the Rugby Championship in November still a possibility, where the Springboks would look to defend the title they won last year, these latest injuries are not good news for Erasmus and head coach, Jacques Nienaber.
Snyman suffered a devastating knee injury on duty for Munster in the PRO14 two weeks ago and is expected to be out for months.
Then, this past weekend, Etzebeth left the field in the second half of Toulon's Top 14 loss to La Rochelle with what looked to be a painful rib injury.
The extent of the injury will only be known later in the week, but Etzebeth appeared to be in significant discomfort.
De Jager, meanwhile, injured his shoulder in Sale's loss to Exeter, also this past weekend.
The towering second rower has had a history of shoulder problems - it was the injury that saw his participation in the World Cup final cut short - and this latest development means that the Boks could potentially go into the Rugby Championship with key power missing from their pack.
Regardless of the injuries, it is still not clear if South Africa would be able to field a side at the Rugby Championship, given that the tournament is expected to begin on November 7.
Even if a domestic tournament does get underway in early October, the South Africans would still need to arrive early in New Zealand for a period of quarantine, meaning that the locally based players would enter the Championship significantly short on game time.
- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard