Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup 2015 due to a broken jaw as his tournament jinx returned to haunt him.
It is the second such injury suffered in the last two months by the 34-year-old centre, who made a miraculous recovery to be ready for the World Cup, only to fracture the right side of his jaw late in Saturday’s 46-6 win over Samoa at Villa Park.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer called up Jan Serfontein as a replacement and he will join the squad in Newcastle on Monday, the South African Rugby Union said in a statement.
“Jean is not only our captain and one of the most experienced players in the squad, but he is also the glue of this team and to lose him is very sad,” coach Heyneke Meyer on Sunday.
“We are all very heart-broken for him and we will miss his influence a lot.”
De Villiers suffered the fracture with eight minutes left in a tackle with Samoa fullback Tim Nanai-Williams.
He was replaced, only to return to the field again for the closing stages when fellow centre Jesse Kriel was forced off with a cut.
“Jean has fought back from all his injuries and this is the kind of character and fighting spirit we will need to show going forward in this competition,” added Meyer.
“While this is a huge and emotional set-back for the team, we will now have to regroup and refocus before we start our preparations for Saturday’s match against Scotland.”
The break is on the opposite side of De Villiers’ jaw to the fracture sustained against Argentina in Durban in August.
Injury has blighted the Springbok centre’s previous World Cups, with just handful of his 109 caps over the last 13 years coming at the showpiece tournament.
De Villiers missed out on the 2003 World Cup, some six months after he suffered a serious knee injury just five minutes into his debut against France.
He is officially a 2007 winner, although he tore his biceps during the opening game of the tournament in France and took no further part as the Boks went on to be crowned world champions.
At the last World Cup four years ago, he went off after just 25 minutes of the first game against Wales in Wellington with a rib injury and made just a cameo appearance later on as South Africa exited in the quarter-finals.
He dislocated his knee cap against Wales last November, sustained significant ligament damage and being given little chance of playing again.
South Africa will appoint a new captain on Wednesday when they name their team for their third Pool B match, against Scotland in Newcastle.
De Villiers is to return home for treatment.