Pretoria - The Blue Bulls probably think that they have hit the lowest ebb in this year’s Absa Currie Cup after their loss to the Lions which left them languishing at the bottom of the log but things might just get worse.
There had been an expectation that Springbok wing Bjorn Basson could be ready to take on the field this week after recovering from his operation for a torn intestine during the failed Super Rugby season but the news wasn’t good as team doctor Org Strauss said that Basson would be out for another week and will only be eligible to play against Cheetahs.
Basson’s continued absence from the Bulls team not only deprives the team of experience which is lacking in heaps at the moment, but also of a player that thrives under the Bulls kick and chase game with his superior aerial abilities.
Basson’s return would solve the Bulls inability to cross the whitewash with ease as Basson remains one of the game’s best finishers as is highlighted by his feat of being the record-holder for the most tries scored in a Currie Cup season at 21 tries.
There was though a glimmer of hope that Bulls coach Pine Pienaar would be able to beef up his team this week as young loose forward Arno Botha could make his return from a hamstring injury and is likely to start alongside CJ Stander and Dewald Potgieter if passed fit tomorrow (Wednesday).
If Botha is indeed fit to play against Griquas on Saturday in Kimberley, he will be one of a handful of changes to the misfiring Bulls team as Pienaar’s patience with his team has seemingly reached a crescendo.
With some of the much fancied players who command hefty salaries not justifying their monthly pay, Pienaar has been left with little option but to call on some of the inexperienced but enthusiastic youngsters like SA under-20 star Jan Serfontein and Ullrich Beyers while Rossouw de Klerk could be another wise option to bring back to add brawn to the frontrow.
The biggest frailty, though, the Bulls seem to suffer from besides their hunger to win is their inability to tackle.
Pienaar, again, re-iterated the need for his players to be able to defend and if they fail to carry out their responsibility on defence than he is left with little choice but to look for players that are willing to do so.
“You can put guys in channel and expect them and want them to make tackle and if they can’t make tackle then the whole side is under pressure and this week we came short with that.
It’s something we’ll have to have a look at that and maybe there are other players that can tackle,” Pienaar said.
While the leaked 42 points against Western Province two weeks ago might have been a signal to a bigger problem there is no way of ignoring the obvious after the Lions ran circles around the Blue Bulls players at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and while the scoreboard flatters the Bulls, they know that anymore below par performances will bring on a crisis last seen at Loftus a decade ago when the Blue Bulls lost 11 consecutive matches in the Super 12 competition under Heyneke Meyer.
At the conclusion of that season in 2002, Meyer was out of a job and many of his players struggled to play top flight rugby. Pienaar may still be in his job but the end seems to be near for some players in the Bulls jersey this season.
l The team management of the Blue Bulls will meet with their bosses tomorrow to discuss the team’s current poor run of form which sees them bottom of the log.