JOHANNESBURG - The Bulls will be fighting a number of battles this week before getting themselves into the actual war against the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
While the skirmish against the Highlanders is the most important tussle for the team - a win will keep their hopes of a play-off berth alive - prop Pierre Schoeman will be embroiled in his own fight as he tries to save his reputation while faced with a hearing for allegedly biting a Melbourne Rebels player in the Bulls 28-10 win over the weekend.
Schoeman pleaded not guilty to the allegations, but after being cited the in-form blonde loosehead will have to prove his innocence in front of a Sanzar disciplinary hearing on Tuesday and has already been ruled out of Saturday’s clash against the Highlanders by Bulls boss John Mitchell.
Mitchell confirmed that Schoeman will not be eligible for selection and his place in the starting XV will be taken by Lizo Gqoboka.
“I don’t know (if he has admitted or denied allegations). At the end of the day you will have to go through the judge’s report. He won’t be selected on the weekend,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day you leave those things to the judicial system.
“We will always look after our player welfare and back them up with the necessary support but in the end it is the judge, athlete and lawyers, so I will stay out of it. Lizo is quite fresh as well and now he obviously has to take his opportunity and he will be well excited.”
Mitchell said that the allegations and absence of Schoeman from the team have had no disruption to the team.
“No, not at all. We just get on with the next person. It’s like an injury, you don’t want anything bad to happen to a mate but there is consequences to injuries and also foul play,” said Mitchell.
At the same time, Mitchell confirmed that he had laid a complaint against the Melbourne Rebels with Sanzaar for the Australians deliberate slowing down of the game on Saturday.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels had admitted after the game that his team “purposely” slowed down the game to prevent his team from tiring in the unfamiliar afternoon kick-off time and playing at altitude while also trying to stop the Bulls from getting into their stride.
Mitchell has accused the Rebels of unbecoming tactics. The Rebels proved to be negative in the manner in which they played the game and beyond the allegations of the fake injuries, the Australians were guilty of a lot of off the ball incidents and constant infringements and disruption in the lineouts, scrums and rucks.
“I have taken the strategic option by the Rebels to Sanzaar. I think it was close to 87 seconds stop to start and over 24 stoppages, so we will hear back from Sanzaar about the future of that development. Hopefully, common sense prevails and we don’t get players faking injuries and doctors controlling the speed of the game,” added Mitchell.
Flank Roelof Smit has been ruled out of the game after suffering a knock to the head along with Springbok Sevens forward Tim Agaba (bicep muscle) during in the SuperSport Challenge encounter against the Pumas.
Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff underwent an operation and will be out for six weeks. SA ‘A’ wing Travis Ismaiel returns from a back injury and Mitchell confirmed that he is likely to be considered off the bench and not in the starting team.