Johannesburg – Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez has been ruled out of the Rugby Championship after sustaining an ankle injury at the weekend against Scotland.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said Du Preez would be sorely missed.

“It's a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury,” Meyer said.

“Fourie is also a dynamic leader and one of the vice-captains in our team and his injury is a huge setback.”

Following his first-half substitution during the 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth, Du Preez went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed an anterior syndesmotic ligament injury.

With Du Preez likely to be sidelined for up to three months, Meyer said his absence would provide a chance for others to fill his boots.

“This provides an opportunity for other scrumhalves to prove themselves and make the step up when the opportunity arises.”

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said Du Preez would undergo a procedure in the coming days to determine the stability of the syndesmosis.

“If it is unstable, he will require screw fixation but if it remains stable he can be treated conservatively without surgery,” said Roberts.

“If it is stable and it is treated conservatively, Fourie will be out for approximately three months, but it could be more if he requires surgical fixation.”

Du Preez joined Jaque Fourie (ankle), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep) and Flip van der Merwe (knee) as Springboks who featured for South Africa in the last year but were not available for this year's Rugby Championships. – Sapa