Another backline problem for Bulls
CAPE TOWN - The bad news for Bulls coach Jake White is that he has a few more backline injuries to contend with following Stedman Gans’ ankle problem, but at least captain Duane Vermeulen is on the mend ahead of the Rainbow Cup.
Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw yesterday confirmed news from earlier in the week that outside centre Gans would be sidelined for 10 weeks with torn ankle ligaments, but now wing Stravino Jacobs is out for six weeks with a broken finger he sustained against the Pumas recently.
Jacobs was one of the new breed of Bulls stars who emerged last season, and while he is a powerful runner at wing, White was also thinking of shifting him to centre, which would have been a timely move for tomorrow’s final preparation match against the Sharks in Durban in Gans’ absence.
But with Jacobs out of the mix, Marco Jansen van Vuren is the likely candidate for the No 13 jersey, while youngster Marnus Potgieter has featured there as well.
Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl has undergone knee surgery which will keep him off the field until midApril, so he might also miss the start of the Rainbow Cup.
But as he is joining Saracens at the end of June, his omission means that Embrose Papier, Zak Burger and Keagan Johannes can get more game time.
Better news on the injury front for White is that bulldozing flank Elrigh Louw is recovering quickly from shoulder surgery and is set to return to training next week, while skipper Vermeulen, who had an arthroscopy on his knee a few weeks ago, is scheduled to start running again in two weeks.
Another experienced loose forward, Arno Botha, will be back on the training field next Monday after shaking off a calf issue, while Muller Uys (shoulder) will be back by midApril.
Lock Walt Steenkamp, who had a heart arrhythmia late last year after also contracting Covid-19, had a repeat procedure done and has made good progress.
He will have a further consultation with a cardiologist in mid-April, where he is expected to be given the green light to resume training.
Of the long-term injuries, fullback Gio Aplon has been working hard on and off the field to get back from his knee ligament (ACL) injury he sustained last year, and he is set to return by June, while lock Sintu Manjezi, who had the same injury, has another five-to-six months out.
Loosehead prop Simphiwe Matanzima’s extended period off the field, due to a torn Achilles tendon, is finally coming to an end soon, with a full recovery expected by mid-April.
But the immediate focus for White is tomorrow’s encounter with the Sharks, where he may choose to field his strongest possible team, as this is the last game before the Rainbow Cup kick-off, which is scheduled for April 17.
Of particular interest will be his centre pair, with Gans and Jacobs out of the mix, as well as his loose trio and back-three combinations.