South Africa loose forward Pierre Spies has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup because of clots in his lungs, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported on Monday.
The 22-year-old Spies has been the No. 8 this year with the Bulls and the Springboks and was selected as South Africa's most promising player last year.
Team doctor Yusuf Hassan said Spies was expected to be out of action for between six-to-eight months, SAPA reported. The World Cup is scheduled for Sept. 7 to Oct. 20 in France, Scotland and Wales.
"It would have been great to be in France, but I must accept that it is good that they diagnosed the problem much earlier," Spies said. "Matters could have been worse had I continued playing."
Coach Jake White said he was devastated by the news.
"It's a huge loss for the team," he said. "He is such a great player who would have played a huge role in our campaign in France."
The most likely replacement for Spes will be fellow Northern Bulls loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg, who initially lost out on a place in the South Africa 30-man squad.
Wannenburg can play at blindside, openside or at No. 8.