World Cup final man of the match Handre Pollard missed the start of South Africa's victory tour because he is in hospital with a fractured eye socket.
The fly-half kicked 22 points as the Springboks beat England 32-12 in Yokohama on Saturday to win the World Cup for a record-equalling third time.
Pollard, 25, watched on television as the Springboks visited Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto on Thursday.
"This is not quite the trophy tour I had in mind," said Pollard.
"I desperately wanted to go on the tour around the country and hold Bill (the William Webb Ellis Cup)."
A South Africa Rugby statement said Pollard, who sustained the injury during the final, would be out of action for six weeks.
South Africa's tour continues through Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town over the next few days.
"The reception from the public was unbelievable," added Pollard.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine so many South Africans would turn up on a working day to greet the team."
Pollard, who is set to join French Top 14 club Montpellier, was the leading points scorer at the World Cup with 69, 11 more than England captain Owen Farrell.
Meanwhile, Sale Sharks lock Lood de Jager will have surgery on a dislocated shoulder in Cape Town next week and is not expected to return to fitness for four to six months.