Ross Cronje in action for the Springboks against France. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

CAPE TOWN - Springbok prop Frans Malherbe is likely to miss the 2017 Rugby Championship campaign because of a neck injury.

Malherbe underwent scans in Port Elizabeth on Monday to determine the cause of his neck pain, which started last week, and it was confirmed the Stormers tighthead would need time to recover from the injury.

“Frans consulted a neurosurgeon in PE who suggested extended rest for the player, with follow-up scans to be done in two weeks’ time,” Bok team doctor Konrad von Hagen said.

Lions prop Ruan Dreyer, who made his Springbok debut against France in June, will replace Malherbe in the Bok squad.

There are also concerns about Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronje’s availability for Saturday’s Rugby Championship match against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Von Hagen explained that Cronje was struggling with an injury picked up in the Super Rugby final, and said he would be monitored to see if he can take contact towards the end of this week before they make a decision on his availability.

“Ross Cronje didn’t train last week due to sternoclavicular joint and first-rib joint discomfort.”

In more positive news for the Boks, Von Hagen confirmed Lions loose forward Jaco Kriel, who struggled with flu last week, is back at full training, while Lions hooker Malcolm Marx has recovered from a bruised shoulder.

“Jaco is back to full training and Malcolm had a contusion to his rotator cuff (also sustained in the final) and he’s also back to full training.”

Von Hagen also confirmed Handre Pollard, who took full part in Monday's training session, would continue to be monitored while training with the squad, and he also said although Pollard’s progress has been good, he is not in contention for this weekend as he has not completed his rehabilitation programme.

“Handre took part in full training sessions on Thursday and Friday, and we’ll continue to let him train with the squad and that way work on his fitness and complete his final phase of rehabilitation.”

Meanwhile, the Bok doctor confirmed regular skipper Warren Whiteley successfully underwent surgery on Friday and that his initial prognosis of six weeks on the sidelines still applies.

“Warren underwent surgery and they found a tear in his abdominal muscle where it inserts into the pelvis, and that was repaired,” Von Hagen said.

“He will now continue with his physiotherapy and rehab.”

And although the Boks will be without their inspirational captain for the near future, assistant coach Johan van Graan said that although it’s tough to replace Whiteley, he has been impressed by the work of their current loose trio corps.

Cape Times

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