PRETORIA - The Bulls will seek medical intervention from an overseas tendon specialist in Switzerland in a last ditch effort to mend Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo.
Ulengo is suffering from a chronic knee patella injury and is in a race against time to be fit and ready for the upcoming Super Rugby season.
The former Springbok Sevens flyer, Ulengo, has been struggling with the injury since the beginning of last year and rarely featured in the Bulls ill-fated Super Rugby season.
The ongoing knee injury meant that Ulengo missed out on the Springboks international season last year and while the Bulls took the necessary precautions to treat the injury during the off-season, it seems as though Ulengo is far from being out of the woods.
The Bulls had been banking on having Ulengo fit and rearing to go for the season ahead as he forms a formidable back three with Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant and SA ‘A’ wing Travis Ismaiel.
Bulls executive for rugby and head coach John Mitchell confirmed that they would be sending Ulengo to Europe within the next few days in the hope that he will be ready for their opening game against the Hurricanes next month.
There had been fears that Ulengo’s injury could be career ending as there had been talk of him seeing a specialist in South Africa and probably having to go under the surgeon’s knife again.
“He (Ulengo) got cleared and he actually hasn’t got a tear. We are identifying a tendon specialist overseas. We are hoping to get news on that within the week and we will send him to that specialist which is good news,” Mitchell said.
“If we can get to this tendon specialist then there is every chance that he will feature early. Initially there was concerns for his career with that kind of patella injury but we as a club value him and we would like to ensure that we exhaust all possibilities hence the reason of finding an overseas tendon specialist. If it goes to plan positively then it could be a two week job and we could have Jamba back with us.”
The three time Super Rugby champions also suffered an injury setback to young lock Aston Fortuin, who injured his shoulder in their 31-14 preseason friendly against the Sharks in Polokwane on Saturday and he is expected to be out of action for 4-6 weeks, while Lizo Gqoboka took a knock to his collarbone and Travis Ismaiel is suffering from neck spasms but both are expected to make a full recovery this week.
Mitchell also revealed that Springbok lock Lood de Jager and talented lock RG Snyman are likely to feature in the Bulls second preseason friendly against the Stormers in Wellington on Saturday.
Both De Jager and Snyman had been expected to be drafted into the last friendly before the start of the season along with the rest of the Springboks and players returning from Japan but Mitchell confirmed that he will probably have all the players on the field by the time they play against the Jaguares in their last friendly in two weeks’ time.
“We will introduce a new starting group this week and a finishing group. We’ll introduce a couple of players Lood and RG and get them into the mix in terms of getting them started. Every week you’ll see probably more experienced guys coming back into the programme and closer to the likely 23 for the start of competition,” said Mitchell.