Queensland flanker Hugh McMeniman has withdrawn from the Reds squad set to face the Bulls on Saturday.
The Australia international has been granted immediate leave to return home on compassionate grounds following an illness in his family.
The news comes as a blow to coach Phil Mooney after he has already been robbed of the services of captain James Horwill for the Super 14 opener in Pretoria.
Lock Van Humphries is set to step into the breach in a leadership capacity and he believes the team can overcome adversity.
"I probably haven't thought about leadership too much, but I'm definitely looking for a big year this year for myself, so I guess it goes hand-in-hand," said Humphries.
"I'll step into that role a little more this year. Probably more so this year than any other year with the squad being quite young and a lot of the older guys leaving at the end of last year.
"Rob Simmons' coming along really well. He'll just keep getting better and better as he's still quite young and has got so much improving to do. The exposure he'll probably get in the first three or four weeks of this competition is going to really help him along.
"(Number eight and lock) Ezra Taylor is also looking to come in and help out in that area."
McMeniman's place in the 26-man tour squad will not be filled immediately, in case he is able to return to South Africa in time for the Round Two match against the Stormers on February 20.