Lions captain Ernst Joubert will almost certainly miss his side's Super 14 tour of Australasia due to a shoulder injury.
A scan on Tuesday confirmed that Joubert has a slight tear under his left shoulder, but it is not yet clear exactly how long he will be out of action for.
Lions coach Eugene Eloff said it was highly unlikely that Joubert would be able to go on tour with the squad.
Joubert damaged the shoulder when a player fell on top of him in the Lions 24-24 draw with the Reds at Ellis Park last weekend, though he did not initially think the injury was serious.
The Johannesburg based side leave for Australasia on Friday and Joubert has already accepted the fact that he will miss at least the first part of the tour.
"I'll be seeing a specialist on Wednesday and should then have an indication of how long I'll be out," Joubert told Super Rugby.
"It's hard to say but at this stage things don't look good."
The injury could not have come at worse time for the embattled Lions.
They have finally found some rhythm and some encouraging performances have largely been thanks to Joubert's combination with his loose-forward colleagues, Cobus Grobbelaar and Joe van Niekerk.
Eloff said the selectors would make a decision on Wednesday but "at this stage it does not look as if Ernst will go on tour".
Wilhelm Koch will take Joubert's place with either Grobbelaar or Willie Wepener set to take over.
Eloff admits Joubert's absence is a major blow.
"To lose your captain before a tour, is always tough. It is a huge setback. But that's why one coaches; to have cover when things go wrong," he said.