Stormers lock Rob Linde will play no part in the Cape side’s Super 14 campaign.
Keo.co.za has learnt that Linde, who returned to the Western Province starting XV for the Absa Currie Cup semi-final against the Cheetahs last year, suffered a herniatic disc during pre-season training and is expected to be out for six months.
Linde’s absence weakens the already vulnerable second row, with head coach Kobus van der Merwe’s options now taking a further hit.
Ross Skeate and Gerrie Britz seem certain to start the season as the first choice pairing, with the only recognisable cover provided by Andries Bekker and Duimpie Theron.
Adri Badenhorst is an emergency option, but is clear that reinforcement before the southern hemisphere showpiece kicks off must become a priority.