Another front row injury has left the Free State Cheetahs decidedly thin in one of the most critical departments of the game.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie confirmed that prop Schalk van der Merwe is suffering with an injury that will "most likely" ruled him out of the trip to Pretoria this week.
The crunch encounter at Loftus Versfeld will be decisive in the play-off prospects if the teams currently occupying sixth (Blue Bulls) and fifth place (Cheetahs) in the standings.
With the Cheetahs four points behind Western Province and Griquas (the third and fourth-placed sides) and the Bulls a further two points down, defeat on Saturday will almost certainly end their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
The last thing the Cheetahs needed was for another front row forward to be ruled out.
"That is a big setback," said Fourie, adding: "We are already thin in terms of our font row resources.
"With Coenie (Oosthuizen, neck injury), WP (Nel, departed to Europe) and Trevor (Nyakane, hand injury) ... we are really thinly spread in this department."
Fourie said that Brummer Badenhorst, who is on loan from the University of Stellenbosch and has been training with the Cheetahs for the last few weeks, will most likely come into the matchday 22.
Former Golden Lions prop Ross Geldenhuys, another player signed on a short-term contract after a surfeit of injuries, would most likely start alongside Marcel van der Merwe and Hercu Liebenberg in the new-look Cheetahs front row in Pretoria.
"That is how injuries go ... it sometimes just comes in a specific position and it is our front row resources that are feeling the pinch," said Fourie.
The Cheetahs had hoped that Bok flank Lucas Floors would have recovered from his knee injury, but that looks unlikely.
There is a remote chance that Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen could feature against the Bulls, after sitting out since he suffered a neck injury against England in June.
However, a more realistic return date is against Griquas next week.