They face yet another derby against the Cheetahs on Saturday, but will have to do so without De Jager, who was concussed in the Bulls 37-24 loss to the Stormers at Newlands over the weekend, with his debut for the three-time Super Rugby champions lasting less than half an hour.
The 24-year-old De Jager was hospitalised overnight on Saturday and discharged on Sunday before returning to
The fact that De Jager won’t be available to face his former teammates in Bloemfontein will further compound the Bulls’ woes at the set-piece as De Jager played a prominent role, not only in the lineouts, but in the scrums as well.
The Bulls were horrible in both departments and easily got bullied by the Stormers, who did well to capitalise on the misfortunes of their much-vaunted opponents.
De Jager’s absence is only for a week, but he will have a fortnight to recover because the Bulls have a bye next week.
The men from Loftus Versfeld won’t, however, have the same luxury of time to mull over what went wrong and they will need to come up with solutions for their set-pieces and egos that lie in tatters.
Jason Jenkins will in all probability replace De Jager in the Bulls starting line-up to face the Cheetahs, which might just rekindle the formidable second-row partnership with RG Snyman.
Jenkins and Snyman struck up a good partnership in last year’s Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns, and the injury to De Jager could be a blessing in disguise on a short-term basis just to get some of the rhythm and cohesion going in the pack.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais might be forced to make some changes to his front row against the Cheetahs, with Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane looking out of sorts in his new position at tighthead.
Nyakane did well last season when called upon to scrum down on the right-hand side of the scrum, but there were little signs of that on Saturday at Newlands as JC Janse van Rensburg reduced him to a novice.
But there could be another issue at hooker, with Jaco Visagie lacking the grunt that he showed in his maiden season of Super Rugby last year, and a SOS call to Edgar Marutlulle to start could prove masterful by Marais.
At the same time, Marais might consider also making a change at loosehead prop and bring in Lizo Gqoboka for Pierre Schoeman in an effort to give his side a solid platform.
It is not all bad news for Marais and his team as they got a timely boost yesterday with the news that Springbok centre Jan Serfontein has recovered from his back injury and will be available for selection this week.
Serfontein’s availability, though, will provide Marais with a selection poser in midfield as Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel, who were average on a day where the Bulls were put to the sword for most parts of the game by the Stormers.