Kirchner injured his knee during the 22-17 first Test victory in Durban last weekend and was unable to take the field for the second half. The 27-year-old had a scan on Monday morning and, according to a statement released by team management, “it was decided that he would not be considered for the second Test”, in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The statement said Kirchner’s knee would be checked again next week ahead of the final Test in Port Elizabeth on June 23.
Aplon was one of the original 42-man Springbok training squad announced last month and was considered a controversial omission from the final squad, having starred for the Stormers en route to the top of the South African SuperRugby conference and having played in last year’s World Cup.
The diminutive Aplon [1.75m, 78kg] has played 16 Tests and his omission caused a storm of protest in his home city of Cape Town.
Kirchner is likely to be replaced in the starting line-up by Sharks utility back Pat Lambie, who slotted in well at fullback in the second half of the first Test. Aplon has the ability to play both fullback and wing.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday that although Lambie was a quality replacement, fullback was a specialist position that would require some thought.
“Obviously Pat is a great fullback and he had a good second half, I was happy with his performance. Obviously he’s one of the guys who has played there before and it’s easy to use the group system, that’s helpful. But it’s always tough losing a fullback because it means you need a specialist reserve,” Meyer said.
South Africa’s other injury concern is prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who can play on either side of the front five and came off the bench in Durban.
Oosthuizen experienced pain in his shoulder and neck region on Monday morning and Bulls prop Dean Greyling has been called up as cover.
Meyer said Oosthuizen’s potential unavailability after earning his first test cap, would seriously complicate matters because he wants to go into the match with a prop on the bench who is comfortable with playing both loosehead and tighthead prop.
Greyling, 26 years old, has played Two tests, both 11 months ago when South Africa sent a weakened team to the away leg of the Tri-Nations in Australia and New Zealand.
Meyer also praised England for their defence in the first Test and said it had been hard for the Springboks to get their game-plan going.
“Our scrumhalf, Francois Hougaard, struggled a little bit because a lot of guys up front haven’t fitted in together before and didn’t provide him enough protection. That’s rustiness and we worked on that today, but credit to England because they pressed hard in midfield. They’re a quality side and their defence was good,” Meyer said.
“England were awesome at times, they showed great defence and great discipline and you can not go into a comfort zone against that sort of quality. They don’t give up like a lot of other teams give up and they came right at the end.”