England-based flanker Francois Louw could be recalled by an embattled South Africa after Jaco Kriel was ruled out for up to six months having undergone shoulder surgery Tuesday.
Louw, who plays for Bath and specialises in winning turnover ball, has not been chosen for the Springboks this season as coach Allister Coetzee opted for home-based players.
But a back row lacking Kriel and long-term injury victim and skipper Warren Whiteley was brutally exposed in a humiliating 57-0 thrashing by New Zealand in Auckland last weekend.
It was a record defeat for the two-time world champions, surpassing the 53-3 drubbing from England in London 15 years ago.Coetzee hinted in an interview with SuperSport TV that Louw could be brought back for the Rugby Championship clash with Australia on September 30 in Bloemfontein.
He last represented the green and gold during a horror 2016 season in which they suffered a calendar-year record eight defeats in 12 Tests.
Before the mauling from the All Blacks, the Springboks had staged a revival this year by winning five consecutive Tests against France and Argentina and drawing in Australia.
Kriel suffered a shoulder tear against the Wallabies in Perth and he and his club, 2017 Super Rugby runners-up the Lions, confirmed a probable six-month lay-off in tweets.
After hosting Australia, South Africa face New Zealand in Cape Town on October 7 and Ireland, France, Italy and Wales during a November tour of Europe.