South Africa lock Flip van der Merwe was handed a one-week suspension overnight and ruled out of the Rugby Championship title decider against the All Blacks because of his dangerous tackle in Sunday's win over Australia.
Van der Merwe's suspension is up to and including Sunday, meaning he just misses the game against the defending champions on the same day at Ellis Park in Johannesburg when the Springboks have an outside chance of winning the southern hemisphere title.
Without Van der Merwe, a powerful ball carrier and key lineout jumper, the Springboks must beat the All Blacks convincingly in the last round to have a chance of overtaking them at the top of the championship standings.
The second-rower was banned for his tackle on Australia winger Joe Tomane in the 39th minute of South Africa's 28-8 win at Newlands. Van der Merwe was shown a yellow card and sin-binned during the game, but SANZAR ruled at his disciplinary hearing that the tackle deserved further punishment because it was high and he led with his forearm.
Van der Merwe's yellow card was one of four in the game, with two players from each team leaving the field. Although SANZAR said Van der Merwe didn't intentionally strike Tomane with his forearm, the tackle was still high and dangerous.
Franco van der Merwe, no relation, was called up to the Springboks squad this morning to join regular starter Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Pieter-Steph du Toit as the second-row options. Kruger will likely come in to start alongside Etzebeth against the All Blacks, with uncapped 21-year-old Du Toit possibly in line for a place on the bench and a daunting debut. South Africa said the team's only other doubt for Sunday was centre JJ Engelbrecht, who was a "slight concern" with a thigh problem.
South Africa must win with a four-try bonus point and deny the top-ranked All Blacks any bonus points to claim the title for the first time since 2009.