* South Africa missing more than 20 frontline players
* Face uphill battle after already losing opener in Australia (adds fullback Gio Aplon to return home)
South Africa's ranks were further depleted ahead this weekend's clash with the All Blacks after lock Flip van der Merwe and fullback Gio Aplon were sent home and loose forward Heinrich Brussow ruled out of the match on Tuesday.
Van der Merwe injured a rib cartilage in the 39-20 loss to Australia in the Tri-Nations opener last Saturday, while Brussow is suffering from a hamstring strain.
Livewire fullback Aplon, who suffered back and shoulder injuries after falling awkwardly in the defeat to the Wallabies, failed to train in Sydney on Tuesday.
Both players would return home on Wednesday, a statement from the South African Rugby Union said.
The Springboks squad, already missing more than 20 injured frontline players, was further weakened last week when lock Johann Muller returned to South Africa, also because of a hamstring complaint.
Muller was replaced in the squad by uncapped second row forward Gerhard Mostert but there will be no reinforcements for Aplon and Van der Merwe with coach Peter de Villiers on Saturday quipping that South Africa had "run out of locks".
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