South Africa are to take a "conservative approach" with Siya Kolisi ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, with the injured team captain likely to play Currie Cup matches before he returns to the Springboks jersey.
Kolisi injured a knee playing for the Stormers in Super Rugby at the end of May, and he is almost certain to miss to first two of the Boks' Rugby Championship matches, home to Australia on July 20 and away to New Zealand a week later.
"We will probably be a bit conservative with Siya to make sure he is ready for the World Cup, which is the most important part of the year," Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus said on Wednesday.
"We will wait for the results of his scans on Friday, and then we will take it from there and see what the return to play protocol will be."
Erasmus said that Kolisi was likely to play domestic Currie Cup rugby for Western Province while the Springboks were in New Zealand, with the aim to have him back for the one-off home Test against Argentina in Pretoria on August 17.
"I think if we push him now to go with us to New Zealand, we might end up with more than a 50 percent chance that he won't go with us to the World Cup," Erasmus said.
Kolisi is the first black test captain for the Boks, and his popularity in South Africa goes beyond the sport.
Erasmus will have to find a replacement skipper, but the names towards the top of his list -- loose-forwards Warren Whiteley and Pieter-Steph du Toit, and lock Eben Etzebeth, have also been injured.
"We have a few players who need game time, who we want to consider for captaincy," Erasmus said.
"Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit haven't played a lot lately. Both need game time and might be considered for the captaincy, while we also have the likes of Duane Vermeulen, Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx, all of whom have captained their respective franchise teams this season."