South Africa lock RG Snyman has undergone skin graft surgery after he suffered burns last month but he could still return in time for the test series against the British & Irish Lions, officials said on Sunday.
Snyman needed grafts on his knee after being burned in an accident in Ireland last month, along with his Springbok colleague Damian de Allende.
The World Cup winners sustained burns to their legs, hands and face in a bizarre fire-pit incident, but were given the all clear by their Irish club Munster to join up with the Springboks as they prepare for the three tests against the Lions.
But neither has been able to train properly and Snyman had a relapse in his recovery.
“But there is a small chance he could be back for the Lions tests,” said South Africa assistant coach Deon Davids at a news conference.
De Allende and Snyman were with Ireland internationals Mike Haley and CJ Stander when petrol was poured onto the fire, causing an explosion.
“We were just sitting around the fire and one of the boys threw a bit of petrol over and then it caught his hand,” De Allende said last month, without revealing the culprit.
“He just tried to put it (the petrol can) down on the floor and then the whole thing caught alight and exploded.”
De Allende has only done gym work since joining the Springbok camp while Snyman has been slowly working his way back from a serious knee injury sustained on his debut for Munster last August.
South Africa officials also said lock Eben Etzebeth, who left the field at halftime of their test win over Georgia in Pretoria on Friday, suffered a rib injury that was still being assessed.
The Springboks meet Georgia again this Friday in a second test and play their first test against the Lions in Cape Town on July 24.