The Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after suffering a fracture to his jaw, an injury coach Heyneke Meyer described as a massive blow to the team.
De Villiers sustained the fracture in South Africa's 46-6 victory over Samoa in a Pool C match in Birmingham yesterday.
It is the second time in two months that De Villiers, winner of 108 caps in an illustrious 13-year international career, has broken his jaw, having first fractured it playing in South Africa's first defeat by Argentina in August in Durban.
It was a cruel stroke of luck for the 34-year-old centre, who missed the 2003 World Cup because of a serious knee injury and the 2007 final triumph when he was injured in the opening pool game.
He barely made this World Cup after returning from a long lay-off from a serious knee injury suffered against Wales in November.
Jan Serfontein has been called up and will join the squad in Newcastle tomorrow. An announcement on the captaincy for the match against Scotland will be made later this week.
"Jean is not only our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but he is also the glue of this team and to lose him is very sad," said Meyer.
"After injuring his knee last November in Cardiff, he worked incredibly hard to get back to full fitness and the plans worked out perfectly, but rugby is a physical sport and injuries happen.
"We are all very heart-broken for him and we will miss his influence a lot. He has been very unlucky with injuries, but his character clearly showed when he had to go back on the field when Jesse Kriel picked up an injury.
"Jean has fought back from all his injuries and this is the kind of character and fighting spirit we will need to show going forward in this competition.
"While this is a huge and emotional set-back for the team, we will now have to regroup and refocus before we start our preparations for Saturday's match against Scotland."
Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said the fracture was on the opposite side of De Villiers' jaw to the first injury sustained against Argentina in Durban in August.