It's been a terrible couple of weeks for Rassie Erasmus as far as injuries to key Springboks are concerned, but the coach will be hoping for some good news about loose forward Warren Whiteley very soon.
The Bulls duo of Lood de Jager and Lizo Gqoboka are the latest in-form players to be ruled out of action for the foreseeable future, including next month's Test matches against Wales and England. De Jager will be out for at least a month with a torn pectoral muscle, while Gqoboka has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a tendon injury in his toe.
This comes a week after Bok hooker Malcolm Marx was ruled out of next month's Tests with an injury he sustained in the Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes.
De Jager joins fellow star lock Eben Etzebeth on the sidelines. The second-rower, who captained the Boks in the Rugby Championship and during the November tour is still recovering from a shoulder injury and is likely to miss the June Tests against Wales and England.
However, Erasmus may soon see Lions captain Whiteley back on the field following a long injury layoff.
The No 8, who successfully captained the Boks in two Tests against France in June, before missing the rest of the 2017 campaign with a groin injury.
Lions chief Rudolf Straeuli told Netwerk24 that Whiteley has returned to the training field, but the No 8 is yet to take contact. The Lions have two matches left before the Test break -- against the Brumbies in Johannesburg and the Stormers in Cape Town -- and Whiteley will be hoping to feature in the latter fixture.
Other good news for Erasmus and the Lions is the return of scrumhalf Ross Cronje, who is expected to be included in the team for the Brumbies clash after a period on the sidelines with a rib injury.