Francois Steyn's absence is a blow to the Springboks. Photo: Getty Images
JOHANNESBURG: Injured South Africa inside centre Francois Steyn will not be available for the 2012 Rugby Championship final-round fixture against New Zealand in Soweto this Saturday.
A South African Rugby Union statement said Steyn requires surgery on an ankle injury that ruled him out of the 31-8 triumph over Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria last Saturday.
Steyn, who rejoined Durban-based Super Rugby outfit the Sharks in mid-year after several seasons with French Top 14 club Racing Metro, undergoes surgery Wednesday to clean out old bone fragments in his ankle joint.
"Losing Francois is a big blow as he is one of our most experienced players," admitted coach Heyneke Meyer. "However, it is better he gets the ankle sorted out properly as he has a long rugby career ahead of him."
Golden Lion Jaco Taute replaced Steyn against the Wallabies to win his first cap and is set to remain in the starting line-up, which is scheduled to be announced Wednesday.
Loose forward Jacques Potgieter has also been forced to withdraw from the squad after sustaining an abdominal strain playing for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup last weekend.
Centre-cum-wing Lionel Mapoe from reigning Currie Cup champions the Lions replaces Steyn in the 30-man squad and Arno Botha comes in for Bulls team-mate Potgieter.
New Zealand clinched the maiden Rugby Championship last weekend with a 54-15 triumph in Argentina and lead second-place South Africa by nine points going into the fixture at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium.