The Springboks are preparing for the Australasian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign but must do without Steyn (Stade Francais), Habana (Toulon), lock Juandre Kruger (Racing Metro), prop Gurthro Steenkamp and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak (both Toulouse) this week.
"This is a unique situation and a one-off concession to these four French clubs," South African Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux said in a statement on Monday.
"Most of these players recently joined the French league and although we could've opted to keep them with the squad to prepare for the Australasian leg, we decided to adhere to their requests to allow them to return to their clubs.
"If selected for the tests in Australia and New Zealand, they will join up with the Springboks in Brisbane on Monday," added Roux.
The 28-man tour squad will be named on Wednesday.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stade Francais
- Gurthro Steenkamp
- Juandre Kruger
- Jano Vermaak