JOHANNESBURG – The Bulls face a hooker crisis ahead of their 2019 Super Rugby opener against the Stormers in Pretoria on Saturday with Schalk Brits nursing a calf strain.
On Monday, Bulls’ team doctor, Herman Rossouw, confirmed that Brits picked up a calf strain in the team’s warm-up match against the Sharks in Ballito over the weekend.
“We will monitor his progress during the week and make a decision on his availability a bit later this week,” Rossouw said.
The hooker stocks are already depleted with back-ups Edgar Marutlulle and Jaco Visagie unavailable due to injury.
Rossouw said Marutlulle and Visagie would be on the sidelines for between three and four weeks which did little to remedy the current crisis.
Marutlulle was recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, while Visagie underwent an operation to his ankle on his return from a loan spell at English side Gloucester.
It is believed the Bulls were concerned about Brits’ availability and they would be forced to call on the services of prodigy Johan Grobbelaar and Corniel Els.
Grobbelaar only has one Super Rugby match to his name, coming on for the Bulls in the second half of their final match of the 2018 campaign against the Lions.
The Bulls added another long-term injury to their list with winger Duncan Matthews expected to miss up to eight weeks of rugby following an ankle injury yesterday.
Meanwhile, Bulls prop Trevor Nyakane said the team was ready for their opening encounter against the Stormers, insisting not too much should be read into the result in their 32-28 pre-season loss to the Capetonians.
“It is mistakes that cost us that game at the end of the day and I also think it is things we can sort out,” Nyakane said. “If you make mistakes like that against a side like the Stormers they are going to punish you.
“So that is something we will have to rectify. We will have to keep the ball in hand and make sure there is continuity in the game.”
Nyakane will be packing down next to Brits and Lizo Gqoboka in what could easily be a Springbok front row. While the three brought some pedigree to the scrum, Nyakane said their reputations would mean nothing if they did not produce consistent good performances on a weekly basis.
“I enjoy working with the youngsters and I enjoy working with Schalk as well it obviously means we have a lot of experience as well and Lizo also has a lot of experience so you feel comfortable,” Nyakane said.
“But scrums are different, one day you are on top and the next you are nowhere so week in and week out you have to be up for the battle and make sure you are ready.”
The game kicks off at 5.15pm and will be followed by the Jaguares v Lions at 11.40pm. Earlier on Saturday, the Sunwolves host the Sharks at 12.55pm.@ockertde