The Free State Cheetahs may be scouting other unions for front row cover, after another prop was ruled out.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie confirmed that talented loosehead Trevor Nyakane tore ligaments in his hand, where it attaches the thumb and he is unlikely to play again this season.
"He underwent surgery on Monday and will be sidelined for between six to eight weeks," Fourie told this website.
"The chance is slim (that he'll play again this season)," he said, adding: "He'll only be available for the semifinal and then he would have been out for six weeks, which makes it tough."
With Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen still sidelined with the neck injury he suffered against England - he is another three to four weeks away from full fitness - the Cheetahs are very thin in the front row department.
"We do have Ross Geldenhuys, who had game time with the Griffons for the past two weeks, and he will come in on the bench," Fourie said of the veteran prop who was signed from Boland after the departure of WP Nel to Edinburgh.
Geldenhuys, who played Super Rugby with the Lions between 2008 and 2011, joined Boland this year and featured in their Vodacom Cup team
He will provide cover off the bench when the Cheetahs head to Durban on Saturday to tackle the Sharks.
"That is about all we have left," Fourie said.
The Free State University (Shimlas) and the local Technicon is their only feeder teams from the local clubs and they in turn are mostly relying on guys who feature in the Cheetahs' Under-21 and Under-19 teams.
"We'll have to scout the other unions to see what is available, as another injury will leave us in the deep end," the Cheetahs' assistant coach told this website.
Schalk van der Merwe, who came on for Nyakane against Griquas last week, will start at loosehead and Marcell van der Merwe will remain at tighthead.
Other long-term injuries at the Cheetahs include Piet van Zyl and utility back Riaan Smit, both who will not feature again this season.
"It is a big blow so early in the season to lose so many players," Fourie said. 365