Oosthuizen has a “mildly bulging disc in his neck”, according to South Africa team doctor Craig Roberts, and will be out of action for between two and three months as the Springboks follow a conservative treatment approach.
“Coenie is still a young player and has a long career ahead of him and needs to be managed appropriately. We will follow a conservative approach with him,” Roberts said.
The 23-year-old Oosthuizen made his debut off the bench in the first Test against England in Durban, but Van Graan said he had made an impressive impact.
“He showed in the first Test what he can do and his injury is a big loss for us, especially since he can play both tighthead and loosehead,” Van Graan told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Oosthuizen is also a major threat with ball in hand, as Springbok tighthead Jannie du Plessis pointed out.
“Coenie had two brilliant scrums at tighthead but the real difference he made was in carrying the ball, it’s no secret he’s one of the best in the world at that. He always puts you on the front foot,” Du Plessis said.
While the Springbok ball-carriers dominated England and the advantage line in the second half of the first Test, Du Plessis said the forwards had placed too much pressure on scrumhalf Francois Hougaard on their own ball in the first half, by not offering him enough protection at the breakdowns.
“It’s great to play in a pack where all eight players want to do well, but we weren’t clinical enough at the breakdown. We didn’t hold on to the ball well enough and England had good stealers, especially at second or third phase where we were a bit light on cleaners.
“The longer you keep the ball, the more pressure you can exert on the opposition and we improved in the second half and played better rugby as a result,” Du Plessis said.
While the Springboks expect an even better performance from the England pack in Saturday’s second Test in Johannesburg, an area where the home team is more than likely going to be better is goalkicking. Sharpshooting flyhalf Morne Steyn struggled with the swirling wind inside the King’s Park Stadium in Durban and missed two conversions and a penalty.
“My kicking was not up to standard. The conditions were quite tough, but a kicker must be prepared for all conditions. In a place like Durban, the ball doesn’t travel as you’d like and I allowed too much for the wind. But it should be better at altitude and Ellis Park is closer to Loftus [Steyn’s home ground with the Bulls], so I should be more at home this weekend,” Steyn said.
Van Graan also praised a second debutant, lock Juandre Kruger, for a top-class all-round display.
“Juandre did really well in his first Test, he had a lot of responsibility – organising the calls on our own ball and when we contested, as well as the kick-offs. We only lost three out of 15 balls, so the lineout went well considering we had personnel from different teams,” Van Graan said.