The Rugby Championship
Springboks suffer Pietersen blow
ESPN Staff
August 6, 2012
South Africa's JP Pietersen is tackled by England's Tom Johnson, South Africa v England, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, June 23, 2012
JP Pietersen shone for the Boks against England in June © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Juan de Jongh | JP Pietersen
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The Springboks have received a huge blow ahead of their Rugby Championship opener with Argentina on August 18 with the news that JP Pietersen faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Pietersen fractured his thumb in the Sharks' Super Rugby final on Saturday and will undergo surgery on Wednesday with the likely spell on the sidelines ranging from between six and eight weeks. Stormers back Juan de Jongh has been called up in Pietersen's place but Boks coach Heyneke Meyer admits Pietersen's injury is a "massive blow" to his side.

"We decided to pick Juan, as he provides midfield cover, an area where we are perhaps a bit thin now that JP is out," Meyer explained. "JP was going to provide cover for us at outside centre, while JJ Engelbrecht and Francois Hougaard can also be used on the wing, especially as Bjorn Basson is out for another six weeks.

"Losing JP is obviously a massive blow, as he's been playing some superb rugby lately, but Juan has also been in good form for the Stormers and was one of the unlucky players to miss out on initial selection. It's great to have Juan involved as he brings new energy with him. This call-up just shows again that no player is ever completely out of the equation."

There are also doubts surrounding Schalk Burger's fitness with Stormers boss Allister Coetzee admitting that he is likely to be out for the rest of the year. Coetzee told Rugby365: "Schalk is still out completely. He had to stop the rehab completely because he wasn't going any further so he saw a specialist last week and we are just waiting for the report on that."

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