PRETORIA - Springbok Warrick Gelant and Bulls captain Burger Odendaal are in a race against time to be fit for the Bulls ahead of their highly anticipated Super Rugby derby against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Gelant was pulled out of last weekend’s 21-19 win against the Hurricanes because of a “niggling” knee injury and is yet to be given the green light to play against the Lions.
Bulls team doctor, Herman Rossouw, confirmed that a call will be made on the availability of both Gelant and Odendaal later in the week, while locks Jason Jenkins, Aston Fortuin and Springbok Sevens star loose forward Tim Agaba are back to full fitness available to play.
“Odendaal has a bruised rib, we are going to make a decision on his fitness later in the week. Warrick recovered well last week and started with some selected sessions this week and we’ll make a final decision on his availability later this week,” said Rossouw yesterday.
As much as the Bulls enjoyed a winning start to the competition without Gelant at fullback and the young Divan Rossouw holding his own as a replacement, the Bulls will be desperate to have Gelant in the team.
It is the same with Odendaal, who has made the No 12 jersey his and has been inspirational through his pragmatic leadership style that sees him wear his heart on his sleeve.
The Bulls are thin on players at inside centre with Franco Naude ruled out for four months after undergoing a shoulder operation, leaving coach John Mitchell with two options in starting either with Francois Brummer or shifting Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard to centre and Marnitz Boshoff to start at No 10.
Mitchell has already intimated that Pollard could be an effective attacking weapon at inside centre with Boshoff also offering the team a lot with his experience gained at the Lions and more recently in Ireland playing for Connacht.
However, Mitchell will be crossing his fingers that both Gelant and Odendaal are passed fit with the Bulls needing to be at their best and present their strongest team if they are stop the Lions.
Mitchell, though, believes that there are areas of the Lions game they can exploit, even though the Joburg outfit have been dominant in the SA conference and last lost to a South African franchise in 2015.
“We have total respect for them, they are an outstanding football team. But like any team they present you with opportunities so it will be a different game to what we experienced against the Hurricanes,” Mitchell said.