Warren Whiteley has been battling with a groin injury that has kept him off the field since mid-June. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not be fit for the last two matches of the Rugby Championship, but should return for the tour of Europe, team officials have said.

A groin injury has kept the 30-year-old No 8 out of his country’s last five internationals, and he missed the Super Rugby final for the Lions in August as well.

“It’s just now the final phase of his rehab, and then it is just a matter of getting him fit,” Springbok team doctor Konrad von Hagen told reporters in Bloemfontein.

Whiteley was injured in the June Test series against France, but had initially expected to return midway through the southern-hemisphere tournament.

South Africa play Australia in their penultimate game in Bloemfontein on Saturday, and complete their programme against world champions New Zealand at Newlands in Cape Town on October 7.

Flanker Jaco Kriel is ruled out of the November and December Tests in Ireland, France, Italy and Wales after shoulder surgery, but prop Coenie Oosthuizen is likely to be back for the tour after fracturing his arm.