Bulls’ lock crisis gets worse ...
The news comes two days after it was revealed that lineout linchpin and Bulls captain Lood de Jager had been ruled out for four months due to a shoulder injury. De Jager’s absence meant Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard would take over the captain’s armband for the rest of the season.
Bulls coach Pote Human was forced to make a few positional changes to the team that demolished the Lions 30-12 last weekend.
“Eli Snyman is unfortunately out, he hurt his shoulder last weekend and we thought he would be ready but he didn’t make the fitness test,” Human said. “It is probably a bit of a test for the guys are excited, we are back at Loftus and although we’ve had two good wins we know the Sharks have a good pack.
“The Sharks are fresh off a defeat and they have a really good team so it is going to be tough.”
Human has moved Hanro Liebenberg from the side of the scrum to the second row where he will partner with Jason Jenkins.
Tim Agaba and Jannes Kirsten will form a new loose trio with Duane Vermeulen after Stoney Steenkamp failed to recover from a concussion.
Scrumhalf Embrose Papier will shift to the bench with Ivan van Zyl earning a start as part of a rotational policy.
Human seemed surprisingly calm about the lock headache which has been looming since the start of Super Rugby.
The player migration has compounded problems with Springbok lock RG Snyman returning from Japan with an ankle injury.
Snyman is on the mend, but will only make his return for the Bulls after next week’s bye.
Promising young lock Hendre Stassen is still on loan at former Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s Stade Français and is due to return to Loftus at the end of the month.
But his return is uncertain as Meyer seems to have found a liking to Stassen with the Bulls working behind the scenes to get the player back.
“Hanru recently played lock at Stade France so he is used to that, then Stassen is still there until the end of March and I know they want to keep him there so that is a decision the board must make,” Human said.
“Then, unfortunately, Aston Fortuin injured his toe on Tuesday so he is not available for this weekend.
“Then we have a guy like Ruan Nortje who is also available, so there is still some depth left.”
The Bulls will be looking to extend their unbeaten run against the Sharks to eight matches and claim their third South African scalp of the season.
Human said this would be easier said than done as they take on a strong and well-balanced Sharks outfit.
“The Sharks have a very good pack and they will come to try and take us on up front,” Human said.
“Then they have Robert du Preez at flyhalf that can dictate the game when they have the front-foot ball.”
The Bulls team is:
Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Jesse Kriel, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Handré Pollard (c), Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen, Tim Agaba, Jannes Kirsten, Jason Jenkins, Hanro Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Corniel Els, Simphiwe Matanzima, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Tembelani Bholi, Paul Schoeman, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw.