Bulls centre Wynand Olivier has been ruled out of South Africa's year-end glam slam tour due to a groin injury.
The 27-year-old was set for a key role during the trip due to the withdrawal of several players and was included the preliminary 39-man training squad named by coach Peter de Villiers over the weekend.
But he has now pulled out because of a groin problem and will undergo surgery later this week.
Olivier, a 2007 World Cup winner, has been a regular in De Villiers' squads but has mainly played as a substitute behind the likes of Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers.
He told www.supersport.com: "It's an injury that I have been struggling with for at least four or five weeks now and it almost kept me out of the Currie Cup semi-final last weekend.
"While it is disappointing to not be considered for the tour at the end of the year, I believe it is the right decision to undergo the operation now and ensure that I'm fit and ready for the season next year.
"We have the Super Rugby competition and the World Cup next year."
The surgery will keep him sidelined for a month, while he has been advised not to train again until January.
Fourie was ruled out of the trip on Friday, leaving the 32-capped Olivier in pole position to start alongside De Villiers in the Tests against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England next month.
The other midfielders in the group are the inexperienced Juan de Jongh and veteran Adrian Jacobs, who has played little rugby this season due to injury.