Johannesburg - Bulls lock Fudge Mabeta will miss the 2012 Super Rugby campaign after being injured in a car accident in late December.
Team doctor Org Strauss confirmed the injury on Wednesday. Strauss said the player will be out of action for at least six to eight months, after rupturing a knee ligament. He will be operated on later in January.
The Bulls re-assembled in Pretoria after the Christmas break, and Mabeta was the only serious injury during medical check-ups.
A host of players are at various degrees of recovery and will join the team as soon as allowed by Strauss.
Juandr Kruger (10 days), Bjorn Basson (14 days), Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Wesley Dunlop (seven days) will be out for short periods, while Dewald Potgieter, Francois Venter, Warwick Tecklenburg and Wynand Olivier will return to full training by the beginning of February.
Rossouw de Klerk has already been ruled out for the biggest part of the Super Rugby season, following surgery to his foot, and Morn Mellett is expected to be fit for selection in another six weeks.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said his team had high expectations following a poor display in 2011.
"We have big plans and big dreams for 2012. The Bulls have established a proud record in Super Rugby in recent seasons and that acts as a great motivating factor. Everybody is keen to go," said Spies.
The Bulls will play warm-up matches in early February against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs in Polokwane. They open their Super Rugby campaign against the Sharks in Pretoria on February 24.