Duane Vermeulen of the Bulls is likely to be back with the squad in time for the trans-Jukskei derby against the Lions. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Duane Vermeulen of the Bulls is likely to be back with the squad in time for the trans-Jukskei derby against the Lions. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Double boost for Blue Bulls after positive Covid-19 cases

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Dec 30, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - After a difficult few weeks, there seems to be some much-needed relief for the Blue Bulls ahead of their return to Currie Cup action in the New Year.

Having lost to the Sharks on 12 December, Jake White's team had their next fixture against Griquas cancelled due to a substantial number of Covid-19 positive cases in their squad.

The Covid-19 spread to such an extent that the Bulls management had to engage with the Golden Lions about rescheduling their Boxing Day clash at Loftus.

It was agreed to move the game to next Wednesday, which then meant that their final league encounter against the Pumas in Mbombela had to be shifted from next Friday to next Sunday.

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On top of that, captain and No 8 Duane Vermeulen was given time off and was going to miss the Griquas and Lions games if they had taken place as scheduled.

But now, things are looking up for the men from Pretoria. Following their isolation period, the Bulls completed their latest Covid-19 testing on Sunday, and Independent Media understands that this round had “gone well”, which may mean that all of those who had tested positive previously should be able to feature against the Lions next Wednesday.

The entire squad of players and coaches will have to go for another round of testing on Saturday, in order to be officially cleared to play at Loftus – the game will also definitely be shifted to earlier next Wednesday from the 7pm kickoff due to the level 3 lockdown regulations issued by South African government this week, which state that all sports matches should be completed by 8pm.

As a result of those regulations, the Free State Cheetahs-Western Province showdown in Bloemfontein on Saturday was changed yesterday from a 7pm kickoff to 4.30pm.

Further good news for the Bulls is that Vermeulen is likely to be back with the squad in time for the trans-Jukskei derby against the Lions. The Springbok No 8 has spent time with his wife and two sons, who live at their Cape Town home, over the festive season following a busy playing schedule over the last few months.

But the 34-year-old will have to undergo a Covid-19 test before he can rejoin the team for training ahead of the Lions clash.

Vermeulen's return would round off the feel-good feeling pervading through the Loftus corridors at the moment, after they announced the signing of Bok loose forward Marcell Coetzee on Monday.

The former Sharks star will link up with the Pretoria-based team in July 2021 from Northern Irish club Ulster.

And despite their inactivity in recent weeks, the Bulls still top the Currie Cup standings on 35 points, four ahead of Province – although that can change this weekend if WP beat the Cheetahs with a bonus point.

@ashfakmohamed

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