Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx are questionable for this week’s showdown against Italy in Padova.
Etzebeth (leg) and Marx (shoulder) went for x-rays on Sunday to determine the severity of injuries suffered during Saturday’s 18-17 win against France in Paris. Though neither was ruled out based on the x-rays, Marx was set to go for an MRI on Monday.
If they’re not cleared for duty, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco Mostert would be front-runners to replace Etzebeth in the second row, while veterans Beast Mtawarira, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen all have leadership credentials.
Siya Kolisi would have been on the shortlist to lead the Boks, but he has returned to Cape Town in anticipation of the birth of his second child. He is set to return to the tour next week for the final match against Wales in Cardiff.
If Marx is grounded, Bongi Mbonambi is a shoe-in to start at hooker with Chiliboy Ralepelle promoted to the bench.
South Africa suffered a historic loss against Italy in November last year, going down 20-18 in Florence against an Azzurri team coached by current Springbok defence consultant Brendan Venter.