South Africa captain Jean de Villiers faces a race to be fit for next year's World Cup.
De Villiers was carried off during the Springboks' 12-6 defeat against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday after twisting his left knee and suffering a dislocated knee cap.
Scans shortly after the match revealed significant ligament damage, and 33-year-old De Villiers was assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town on Monday, who advised that the centre requires surgical reconstruction of the knee.
Springboks team doctor Craig Roberts told www.sarugby.net that 106 times-capped De Villiers' absence from rugby "would probably be at least eight months".
South Africa kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan in Brighton on September 19 next year.
"We are currently consulting with the best specialists in South Africa to determine the best way to approach the surgery, as there are potentially a few options available," Roberts said.
"It's imperative that the best course of action is decided on so that Jean can start recovery and rehabilitation as soon as possible to give him the best chance to be fit for the World Cup.
"At this stage it's still difficult to determine how long he will be out of action, but it would probably be at least eight months."