Toulon's bid to win back the Top 14 title will start without the services of their giant South African number eight Duane Vermeulen, who underwent minor surgery on a nagging groin injury, the club said Wednesday.
"He'll be out for three months," a club spokesman told AFP, adding Toulon had no plans to recruit a replacement for the 31-year-old, 6ft 4in (193m) former Stormers man capped 31 times by the Springboks.
The No.8 position looks bleak unless Springboks captain Warren Whiteley recovers in time for the start of the Rugby Championship.
Last season's losing Top 14 finalists Toulon have come under the scrutiny of French rugby's financial watchdog in the close season and have been less active than in recent years on the transfer market.
It seems that Handre Pollard and Lionel Cronje are contending to be Elton Jantjies’ substitute at flyhalf, as they were included for a Springboks medical assessment camp in Stellenbosch.
As cited by The Citizen, Allister Coetzee says: “With Pat Lambie out for at least the next three months, we have to ascertain what the progress is with Handré’s injury and what form he is in. Lionel has grabbed his opportunities this year and is really playing very well.”