Now Jake White needs a new Bulls centre after Stedman Gans blow
CAPE TOWN - The Bulls will have to integrate a new outside centre for the start of the inaugural Rainbow Cup next month after star No 13 Stedman Gans was ruled out for a lengthy period yesterday.
The Bulls management confirmed that Gans has torn ankle ligaments (syndesmosis), which he sustained in last Friday’s thrilling 34-29 victory over the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Gans, who has provided tremendous cut and thrust in the Bulls midfield alongside centre partner Cornal Hendricks, was again full of running against the Capetonians in his first match of the new season.
However, he was involved in a freak collision with Hendricks late in the second half, when he was tackled by Rikus Pretorius.
As the outside centre went down, Hendricks was pushed to the ground by Stormers flyhalf Tim Swiel, where after Gans’ left leg got caught under Hendricks’ body.
The former Blitzboks captain had to be helped off by medical staff, and Bulls coach Jake White would’ve hoped that Gans would be able to feature in the Rainbow Cup.
But the Bulls management confirmed yesterday that he would be sidelined for about 10 weeks, which takes him up to the last week of May.
The Rainbow Cup is scheduled to start on April 17, which is likely to result in Gans missing six matches.
The player will undergo surgery today.
Having been one of the key figures in the Bulls’ march to the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup titles last season, Gans’ absence will be keenly felt in the backline.
His ability to take on defences with his speed and dazzling footwork added a different dimension on attack.
Youngster Marius Potgieter is the next specialist outside centre in line, but coach White may consider a number of other options for the No 13 jersey, starting with Friday’s final preparation game against the Sharks at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban (7pm kick-off).
Utility back Marco Jansen van Vuren, who is normally a centre, has played at outside centre a few times, where he has performed well as a stop-gap measure.
He has shown that he can stand his ground defensively, although he hasn’t really had much of a chance to run with ball-in-hand from midfield.
He has been more prominent at wing, though, from where another candidate may be considered – Stravino Jacobs.
A strong-built left wing, Jacobs first made his name in the Bulls Under-21 team last year, when he was the top try-scorer for the season as the Pretoria juniors claimed the national title.
Jacobs continued in that vein for the senior side and impressed White to such an extent that the former Springbok coach said recently that the Paarl young gun could become a formidable outside centre in future.
Friday’s match against the Sharks is an ideal opportunity for White to have a look at Jacobs in midfield, where his powerful frame could come in handy.
Other inexperienced centres in the greater Bulls squad include Dawid Kellerman, Jay-Cee Nel and Diego Appollis.
Or will White bring out the chequebook once more?