South Africa have axed defensively-suspect winger Raymond Rhule from the squad for a Rugby Championship clash with Australia in Bloemfontein Saturday.
A Tuesday statement said Rhule, fellow winger Sibusiso Nkosi and loose forward Daniel du Preez had been dropped from the 30-man squad preparing for the penultimate-round match.
Demotion was a bitter blow for Cheetah Rhule, who had hoped to play for Springboks in front of his home crowd for the first time after making his Test debut this season.
Long considered a defensive liability by the public and media, Rhule was brutally exposed as New Zealand crushed South Africa 57-0 in Auckland this month.
His poor performance included nine missed tackles as the Springboks suffered a record loss, surpassing the 53-3 hammering from England in London 15 years ago.With Rhule and uncapped Nkosi dumped, Courtnall Skosan and Dillyn Leyds are the only recognised wingers among the remaining 27 players.
Centre Jesse Kriel has played on the wing, with disastrous consequences as direct rival Juan Imhoff of Argentina scored a hat-trick in a stunning 37-25 win two seasons ago.
There will be at least one other change to the team that started in the Auckland annihilation following the sacking of scrum-half Francois Hougaard last week.
Ross Cronje, who missed the All Blacks Test due to illness, is expected to be recalled and partner fly-half Elton Jantjies.
England-based flanker Francois Louw may play his first Test this year, in place of far less experienced Jean-Luc du Preez.
An injury and the preference of coach Allister Coetzee for local players kept Louw out of series against France and four rounds of the Rugby Championship.
New Zealand top the table after four straight wins and will clinch a fifth title in six attempts if they defeat bottom-of-the-table Argentina in Buenos Aires Saturday.
South Africa are three points ahead of Australia and the Bloemfontein match is effectively a contest for second place.