The extent of the injury was revealed only after the Springboks returned home on Tuesday. The 28-year-old scrum-half played in the third-place play-off against the All Blacks, five days after the semi-final.
"I thought I tore it against Australia." Van der Westhuizen said. "There was a lot of discomfort but I decided to play the full game against New Zealand. I'm obviously very disappointed but what can I do?"
Van der Westhuizen underwent surgery yesterday and will spend at least two months resting before the rehabilitation process can begin. He is not expected to return before April.
Another South African, the stand-off Henry Honiball, will make his Bristol debut in Saturday's Allied Dunbar Premiership match at Sale. The veteran, who has retired from Test rugby since the World Cup, will form a half- back pairing with the Argentinian scrum-half Agustin Pichot.Reuse content