The pandemic has robbed the Springboks of the chance to develop experience in depth.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
A Springbok flyhalf contingent that includes Handré Pollard and Elton Jantjies, as well as the accomplished Morné Steyn, is a formidable one on paper, but the latter two pivots have enjoyed little to no game time at Test level in the past few years.
Coaches Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will hope Pollard remains fit and available for the duration of the series against the Lions. If the man who played such an influential role in winning the Rugby World Cup 2019 breaks down, the Boks may have to alter their tactical course and back two very different options in Jantjies and Steyn.
Some players are irreplaceable. Duane Vermeulen, Man of the Match in the 2019 World Cup final and the 2020 SA Rugby Player of the Year, falls into this category.
The Bulls have confirmed that the inspirational No 8 will be sidelined for the next six weeks due to an ankle injury.
The upshot is that Vermeulen may not be back for the first Test against the Lions...