Springbok blows as Wiese banned, Willemse, Am injured

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:South Africa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">South Africa</a> director of rugby Rassie Erasmus (L) embraces Springbok Jasper Wiese after the 2023 Rugby World Cup final victory over <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:New Zealand;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">New Zealand</a> in <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Paris;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Paris</a>. (FRANCK FIFE)

World Cup-winning South Africa loose forward Jasper Wiese was banned for six matches on Thursday, ruling him out of Tests against Wales, Ireland, Portugal and Australia.

This blow follows a hand injury sustained by Springboks full-back Damian Willemse last weekend which is likely to sideline him before an August tour of Australia.

Another potential absentee from two eagerly-awaited home Tests against Ireland in July is outside centre Lukhanyo Am, nursing shoulder and rib injuries.

The suspension of Wiese was announced in a Rugby Football Union statement while the Stormers and Sharks franchises confirmed injuries to Willemse and Am.

Wiese was sent off last Saturday in his final match for Leicester Tigers after driving an Exeter Chiefs opponent head first into the ground at a ruck.

With his club career on hold, the forward must serve his ban in international matches, and will be unavailable for the world champions until an August 31 clash with arch rivals New Zealand.

Willemse and Am were injured playing in the penultimate regular-season round of the United Rugby Championship.

Willemse started the 2023 World Cup final victory over New Zealand in Paris and Wiese came off the bench seven minutes from time to replace captain Siya Kolisi.

Am was not part of the original World Cup squad due to injury. He later flew to France as a replacement for Makazole Mapimpi.

Evan Roos or Cameron Hanekom are possible replacements for Wiese, veteran Willie le Roux for Willemse and Jesse Kriel for Am.

South Africa launch a 13-Test season against Wales in London on June 22, then host Ireland on July 6 and 13 in a showdown between the top two ranked teams.

The sole loss the Springboks suffered when winning a record fourth World Cup last year was against Ireland, who won a pool match 13-8 in Paris.

After a first Test against Portugal, in Bloemfontein on July 20, South Africa visit Australia for Rugby Championship matches on August 10 and 17.

The world champions also have two fixtures each against New Zealand and Argentina in the southern hemisphere competition before November Tests in Scotland, England and Wales.