CAPE TOWN – Jan Serfontein's rare ailment and consequent unavailability has added a complex conundrum to the Springboks' midfield selection options ahead of the June Test series against England.
It emerged from a report that the discovery of a rare growth on Serfontein's thigh is set to sideline the midfielder for an extended period. The 25-year-old is now seeking medical advice to determine whether he needs to undergo surgery or radiation to have the outgrowth removed, but he is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks.
Before this setback, Serfontein was regarded as one of the most influential centres in France's Top14, and a frontrunner for Springbok inclusion in the mid-year Tests.
The former Bulls star has made an immediate impression at Montpellier since joining the French club towards the end of 2017.
Last year, Serfontein started nine Tests for the Boks, and was one of the overseas-based players that new Bok coach Rassie Erasmus would surely have been considering for selection in June. However, his unavailability should now strengthen the claim of several other locally-based centres who have impressed at Super Rugby level this season.
In recent weeks, Stormers stalwart Damian de Allende has begun to rediscover some impressive form, while burly Sharks inside centre Andre Esterhuizen was one of the standout performers during the early rounds of the competition.
Lions star Rohan Janse van Rensburg also recently returned from injury, and is regarded by many as a Test-quality inside centre, but one would think that he quickly needs to find some top form if he hopes to come into consideration for the June Internationals.
At outside centre, the competition looks increasingly healthy between Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel, who have been both in outstanding form for the Sharks and Bulls respectively. Although Kriel can be regarded as the incumbent Bok No 13, there is little doubt that Am is building a strong case to be picked for his first Test start.
Of the overseas options, Erasmus has made mention of both Frans Steyn and Juan de Jongh as players he believes could add value to the national cause, and it will be interesting to see whether they could come back into the reckoning.
The Boks will take on Wales in a one-off Test in Washington DC on 2 June, before playing against England on 9, 16 and 23 June.
African News Agency (ANA)