The injury doubt hovering over Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss could rob South Africa of more than just another No.2.
The Bok medical staff were still holding out hope that Strauss, who is the third hooker this season to go down with a knee injury, could pass a late fitness test and feature in the Rugby Championship encounter with Australia in Perth on Saturday.
However, coach Heyneke Meyer admitted his almost more concerned that another leader in the team could be lost.
The news of Strauss' knee injury follows in the wake of Chiliboy Ralepelle (who was injured in a training drill before the start of the Rugby Championship) and Bismarck du Plessis, who were ruled out for the rest of the year after undergoing surgery to repair damaged suffered when he injured his knee in the tournament opener against Argentina last month.
"It is not just about the players," Meyer said, when asked about the latest setback, adding: "It is about the leadership as well.
"Bizzy [Bismarck du Plessis] I was very happy with his progress as a leader - I actually see him as a future Springbok captain as well.
"Adriaan [Strauss] is also a great leader and he just came through," he said of the man who took over from Du Plessis as the official vice-captain.
"If you look at our forward pack, there's a lot of guys who haven't been in a leadership role ... hasn't been the captain of their province or franchise.
"With [No.8] Pierre [Spies] injured as well, it is a huge setback, but hopefully he [Adriaan Strauss] will be fit."
The absence of Ralepelle also ribbed the Boks of some leadership skill, as he has already captained his country.
If Strauss should be ruled out, when Western Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, who made his Test debut with a five-minute cameo against Argentina in Mendoza, will have to step in.
"It will be a huge test for him, especially away from home," Meyer said about Liebenberg's prospects.
"I thought he did well [when he came on five minutes from the end in Mendoza]. I wanted to give him more game time, but again it was such a tight Test [which ended 16-all] and Adriaan [Strauss] was the vice-captain.
"However, he is a guy I have a lot of trust in and I want to give him more game time this week."
The other advantage for Liebenberg is that he might have two Stormers teammates - locks Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth - to provide him with some measure of familiarity in Perth.
"Yes it will make it easier, especially with Duane Vermeulen, who is also close to [being selected in] the team.
"Those are three guys he is used to."
Meyer said Liebenberg has proved himself at Super Rugby level, but this is a step up for him.
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