Francois Louw has expressed his sympathy for Springbok team-mate Duane Vermeulen as he battles to be fit for the World Cup in September.
The Stormers number eight requires surgery on a neck injury, with Louw having gone through the same ordeal last season.
Louw came back this term with club side Bath, helping them to the Premiership final, and hopes Vermeulen will be able to do something similar in order to be ready for the World Cup.
"I had a bit of a scare last year towards the end of the Rugby Championship when I had surgery on my neck, and coming back from that, finishing the season up in Europe solidly with Bath and to be involved here now is fantastic," Louw said.
"It's very sad about what has happened to Duane, he is not the first player who has gone through something like that.
"The modern game really demands a lot of the body and there seems to be quite a few neck injuries now.
"Unfortunately, surgery is required but I am sure that he will bounce back stronger. It is bad timing obviously. I know he is absolutely distraught not to be here and involved in this important year. He is in our thoughts."