Springbok centre Juan de Jongh was on Friday ruled out of the three Tests in the Castle Lager Incoming Series this month following a severe chest infection which saw him being hospitalised for four nights.
De Jongh was admitted to hospital on Sunday evening, treated for pneumonia and discharged on Thursday morning.
According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, the decision to withdraw the DHL Stormers midfielder was in consultation with specialists and with the player’s own well-being in mind.
“Juan has responded well to the intravenous antibiotics he’s received in hospital and we’d like to thank the hospital and its staff,” said Roberts.
“Unfortunately this infection really takes a severe toll on the body and although he has recovered sufficiently, he has been advised not to participate in vigorous physical activity for the next three to four weeks, which is why we’ve decided to rather send him home to Cape Town.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the loss of De Jongh is a massive setback.
“Juan is the fifth centre we’ve lost in the last month and his versatility in the midfield will be missed,” said Meyer.
“I’ve spoken to Juan and we wanted to give him a run during this series, as he’s been in great form for the Stormers. At this stage he needs to focus on getting better and returning to the playing field, and I’m sure he will bounce back strongly.”
De Jongh is the latest addition to a long list of injured players who were not available for selection this month, or ruled out because of injury. The others are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers (knee), Damian de Allende (knee) Eben Etzebeth (foot), Jaque Fourie (ankle), Pat Lambie (bicep), Frans Malherbe (concussion), Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Frik Kirsten (neck), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand) and Gio Aplon (elbow).
* Meanwhile, Paul Jordaan and Wynand Olivier have been called up to the Springbok squad in the places of De Jongh and Frans Steyn.
The uncapped Jordaan, a former star for the SA Under-20 and Springbok Sevens teams, has impressed for the Cell C Sharks this season.
Olivier is a veteran of 37 Tests for the Springboks. He made his Test debut in 2006 and his last match in the Green and Gold was in 2012 against England in Port Elizabeth.
Both these players can cover inside and outside centre and will link up with the squad later on Friday.