Springbok and Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis' rugby season may already be over for 2012 after he was injured early in Saturday's 27-6 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina.
"I do not like talking before a medical assessment, but I think Bismarck will almost certainly be out for the rest of the year," Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer told reporters.
"He went for a scan and may have torn ligaments. I do not want to pre-empt anything before the doctors have the final say, but that type of injury normally rules a player out for seven to eight months."
That would rob the Springboks of Du Plessis for home and away Rugby Championship fixtures against Australia and New Zealand, the return match in Argentina next weekend, and November Tests in Ireland, Scotland and England.
It would be a cruel blow for Bismarck, who spent several seasons in the shadow of now retired Coastal Sharks and Springbok captain John Smit before becoming first choice for his franchise and country this year.
Adriaan Strauss replaced Du Plessis at Newlands and should start in Mendoza next Saturday with Tiaan Liebenberg, who came into the squad this week for injured Chiliboy Ralepelle, sitting on the bench.