After experiencing some discomfort in his left knee on Saturday morning, De Villiers was pulled out of the Stormers’ Super Rugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs.
De Villiers underwent a scope in Cape Town on Sunday morning and the prognosis is that he will be out of action for almost two months. He will hopefully be back by the start of Rugby Championship in August.
“Losing our captain is a massive setback,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“Jean has been superb as our leader on and off the field and he was in excellent form as well. He is a wonderful ambassador for South Africa and is respected across the world as a leader – we will certainly miss him next month.
“His injury is the latest in a string of setbacks we’ve experienced, and with Jaque Fourie also ruled out it means we’ll play with a new captain and a new midfield combination next month.
“Luckily we have good depth in the squad at centre, but replacing your captain is always difficult. We have a number of good leaders in the squad, but I don’t want to rush a decision on the captaincy as we still have to finalise the squad for June.”
De Villiers’ place in the training squad that got together in Durban earlier on Sunday, was taken by promising Sharks lock Stephan Lewies.
Meyer said the excitement in the camp was palpable, with less than two weeks before the Springboks’ season opener, against the Samsung-sponsored World XV at Newlands in Cape Town.
“It’s great to see the excitement on the faces of the players, not only the uncapped guys, but also experienced Springboks,” said Meyer.
“Everyone knows this is a very important season and with 18 matches left until we depart for the Rugby World Cup, the players are keen to impress and fight for positions in the squad. Our focus for now, however, is on the World XV match and ensuring we start the season on a positive note.”