Stade Francais flank Shaun Sowerby has been ruled out for four months after breaking his ankle against Biarritz.
Sowerby had to go off just after half-time and underwent an operation on Sunday. Stade won the game 22-16 in front of a record 80,000 fans and now lead the French Championship by 11 points, ahead of Breyton Paulse’s former club Clermont.
Stade may have to sign another loose forward as they also have Pierre Rabadan and Antoine Burban out injured while French international Remy Martin is suspended.
Sowerby played one Test for the Boks – against Samoa in 2002 under Rudolf Straeuli – and has become one of the best loose forwards in Europe. While Jake White has followed the former Natalian’s progress with interest, he has kept faith in local talent.
Top 14 results (week 11):
Stade Francais 22 Biarritz 16
Agen 6 Perpignan 13
Bayonne 9 Toulouse 20
Narbonne 20 Bourgoin 23
Clermont 44 Brive 3
Montpellier 19 Montauban 17
Castres 16 Albi 19