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Springboks scrumhalf Fourie du Preez out for 6 months following ankle surgery

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PRETORIA, South Africa - South Africa will be without first-choice scrumhalf Fourie du Preez for the Rugby Championship as well as its end-of-year tour to the northern hemisphere because of a right ankle injury.

Du Preez limped off in the 29th minute of South Africa's 55-6 victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, and a scan in Pretoria this week confirmed an anterior syndesmotic injury that required surgery.

"The nature of the injury means he required surgical screw fixation, and he will be out of rugby for approximately six months," Springboks team doctor Craig Roberts said on Thursday.

While Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard both deputised for the 32-year-old Du Preez during the June internationals, coach Heyneke Meyer clearly sees Du Preez as his first pick at scrumhalf for next year's Rugby World Cup.

Du Preez was a key member of the side that won the World Cup in 2007, and although he spent nearly two years in the international wilderness after moving to Japan at the beginning of 2012, he was recalled to the Springboks during last year's Rugby Championship.

"Fourie has been brilliant since he returned to the Springboks last year and he will be missed," Meyer said. "However, this provides an opportunity for other scrumhalves to prove themselves and make the step up when the opportunity arises."

Centre Jaque Fourie, loose forwards Pierre Spies and Arno Botha, and locks Flip van der Merwe and Pieter-Steph du Toit will also miss the Rugby Championship through injury.

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