Will Genia became Australia's third successive Test captain to suffer an injury that will keep him out of the game for a prolonged period.
Australia's star scrum-half was standing in as leader for David Pocock, who is out with a knee injury following the Wallabies' first Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand.
Pocock had replaced first-choice captain James Horwill, who was sidelined during the Super Rugby season with a hamstring injury.
Australia came from behind to win beat the Springboks 26-19 in Perth on Saturday - a welcome return to winning ways after their embarrassing 22-0 loss to New Zealand in Auckland a fortnight ago.
But the win came at a cost to the Wallabies, with when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in the game.
"Wanted: Fit captain and a halfback ready to hit the ground running," ran the headline in the tabloid Daily Telegraph, which said that Genia was "the third victim of the cursed Wallaby captaincy".
"Character was the key word for the Wallabies in their preparation against the Boks, particularly after the public backlash to players smiling with the All Blacks on the field after losing in Auckland," the paper said.
The Sydney Morning Herald headline agreed: "Wallabies pass important test of character", it said.
The Australians handled the pressure better than they had in the Tests against New Zealand, the paper said.
"They showed in Perth there was still some life in this wounded beast, demonstrating the resolve required for a victory comparable to their three triumphs earlier in the year over Wales," Greg Growden wrote.
But reports said coach Robbie Deans would be in no rush to name a replacement skipper for fear it will further "jinx" a team already hard hit by injury.
"I don't think we will have a formal leader any more," Deans said.
"We might just have someone who leads the group out the tunnel, and then have a meeting involving a few good men on Monday morning to discuss the week."
Nathan Sharpe, who postponed his retirement from international rugby, took over the captaincy for the dying minutes against the Springboks on Saturday.
But as centre Adam Ashley-Cooper said: "I certainly won't be putting my hand up for the captaincy. It's a curse," according to the Herald.
The Wallabies next play Argentina on the Gold Coast on Saturday.