South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus said on Wednesday that injured Springboks captain Siya Kolisi will definitely miss the Rugby Championship in July, but may play in pre-World Cup matches the following month.
"We are aiming to get Siya involved in the warm-up games," the coach of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning team told a press briefing in Pretoria.
After Rugby Championship matches against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, South Africa play Argentina, Wales and New Zealand during August to prepare for the global showpiece.
The Springboks begin their World Cup defence in France on September 10 against Scotland in Marseille, and also meet Romania, Ireland, the top ranked team in the world, and Tonga in Pool B.
Flanker Kolisi suffered a serious knee injury playing for the Sharks against Munster in April in the United Rugby Championship in Durban.
Initially, it was feared the loose forward would miss the World Cup, which runs from September 8 to October 28.
After surgery in Cape Town, Kolisi is recovering quicker than anticipated and South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has said he expects the skipper to feature at the World Cup.
South Africa will name a 33-man World Cup squad on August 8, three days after their first World Cup warm-up, against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Apart from leading the Springboks to World Cup glory in Japan, Kolisi captained the green and gold to victory in a 2021 series against the British and Irish Lions.
He made the first of 75 appearances for the Springboks in 2013 against Scotland and became the first black Test captain of his country against England five years later.
Erasmus also said South Africa will split their squad for the first two Rugby Championship matches against Australia in Pretoria on July 8 and New Zealand in Auckland on July 15.
About 15 Springboks will fly to Auckland well in advance of the second-round fixture to overcome a big time difference between the countries -- New Zealand is 10 hours ahead of South Africa.
Erasmus followed a similar course before the last World Cup, with a second-string South African side defeating Australia, and the first choices drawing against New Zealand.
South Africa then sent their strongest squad to Argentina, won convincingly and topped the Rugby Championship table.
Forty Springboks began a training camp in Pretoria on Monday, which will continue until June 29.
South Africa have won the World Cup three times, an achievement matched by New Zealand. Australia have been champions twice and England once.