Brenden Nel – SuperSport.com
Pretoria – The Bulls returned to Loftus Versfeld on Monday with more injury headaches than they would like, and a mini-crisis at wing ahead of their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks this Friday night.
After the highs of winning the Mauritius 10s, and the performances of some of their players at Springbok and South African A, the Bulls would have hoped to return to Super Rugby for their last three games in high spirits and keen to finish off on a positive note, but an injury list that stretches to 13 players in total and will see some reshuffling of players, especially in the backline, is hardly what they would have wanted before the game against the Sharks this weekend.
With winger Jamba Ulengo (knee) and Travis Ismaiel (knee) both a week away from action, their loss against the Lions in the SuperSport Challenge last Friday saw them lose two more wingers in Jade Stiglingh (broken cheekbone) and Rabs Maxwane (concussion) in the same game. Maxwane’s concussion is his second of the season, meaning he will need to undergo a mandatory six week layoff before returning to action.
In addition to this the return of Handre Pollard has been put on hold because of inflammation to his injured ankle, and his return is also a week away still.
While there is a school of thought that Pollard rushed back to soon, the team doctor Herman Rossouw believes this isn’t the case.
“We will keep him out this week. His ankle isn’t where it should be right now. He picked up a small inflammation while with the SA A side. We’re going to rest him this week so that he is ready for next week,” Rossouw said.
“Its tough to say (if he rushed back too soon). He came through his rehab well and we were 100 percent happy with him. Those 60 minutes he played in the Supersport Challenge, he looked solid and came through well. It may be that his workload these past few weeks has led to the inflammation”.
The other bad news is that hooker Edgar Marutlule injured his ankle badly in Mauritius and underwent an operation on Monday that will also keep him out of action for six weeks.
Then there are the other injuries that compound selection, including fullback Ulrich Beyers (calf), Piet van Zyl (lung infection), Martin Dreyer (ankle), Hendre Stassen (knee), Johnny Kotze (knee) and captain Hanru Liebenberg (ankle) that will also not be available for selection this week.
The good news however, is that Springbok flanker Roelof Smit, who has not played a minute of Super Rugby this season, is fit and available for selection. The Bulls will have to decide whether to throw him in the deep end against the Sharks, or rather opt for Shaun Adendorff, with Smit heading back to the Blue Bulls for the SuperSport Challenge quarter-finals.
The team will be announced on Wednesday.
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