South Africa are "desperate" to play in the Rugby Championship this year, but several hurdles remain, before they will commit to the competition, according to director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
The southern hemisphere competition will be staged in Australia from November 7 to December 12, but the defending champion Springboks face being woefully under-prepared, which Erasmus believes could make participation dangerous for the players.
"We desperately want to play," Erasmus says. "It will be terrible to go a year without the Springboks playing, but we have had one of the toughest lockdowns in the world and our players were indoors for months.
"In other countries, players could train or at least go to the park to exercise - we did not have that.
"So if you look at the science, we have to get 5-6 matches into the players for their own welfare and to make it safe for them, and we are working out how to do that. Players probably need 500 minutes [of game-time] to be safe."
South Africa's domestic competition will only start on October 10, with players largely inactive since March.
Erasmus reveals the Boks also face resistance from English clubs over the release of players in time for the start of the Rugby Championship.