The Springbok captain John Smit will miss the Springboks' Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland in November after undergoing a neck operation.
Smit underwent a successful operation in his home town of Durban after he suffered a build-up of pressure on the cervical discs.
Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts says the decision had been made to operate because Smit is currently on a conditioning programme and has been withdrawn from all rugby following the Tri-Nations series.
The 32-year-old will be out of action for three months.
Without surgery, the injury would have worsened and Roberts says the early intervention will ensure Smit can turn out for the Sharks in the 2011 Super Rugby season as well as for the Springboks when they defend the World Cup.
Smit has played 102 tests for South Africa, 76 of them as captain, but came under mounting criticism during the Springboks' disastrous Tri-Nations campaign for slipping standards of performance and fitness.