Springbok flanker Jean-Luc du Preez is on track to start against the All Blacks in Albany this week after incumbent No 7 Jaco Kriel returned to South Africa with a shoulder injury.
The athletic Lions breakaway suffered the injury during the 23-23 draw against Australia in Perth last week and a scan has since revealed that Kriel has a torn labrum.
An official press release confirmed that no replacement has been called up to a touring squad that only had four specialist loose forwards. Siya Kolisi and Uz Cassiem are the starters at No 6 and 8 respectively making Du Preez a shoe-in to replace Kriel with a Bok bench that features two locks – most likely to be Lood de Jager and Franco Mostert.
Despite playing exclusively off the bench this season, Du Preez has emerged as arguably South Africa’s best loose forward. As fate would have it, the 22-year-old will likely duel Vaea Fifita who last week steamrolled Argentina in his first Test start for the All Blacks.
Meanwhile, prop Wilco Louw arrived in Auckland late on Monday night as replacement for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen (broken arm).