Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Pretoria - Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar was probably counting his blessings at the prospect of naming a much more experienced and stronger side to face the Lions on Saturday.
Backs Zane Kirchner, Bjorn Basson and Wynand Olivier, as well as forwards Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Flip van der Merwe and Deon Stegmann were all expected to be back in action for the Pretoria-based outfit this week.
However, there was a tinge of bad news to go with the good on Tuesday.
While Pienaar was still smiling about receiving eight Springboks back to play, it wasn’t long before the medical personnel had ruled out Bok Wynand Olivier from action with a shoulder injury.
There is also concern about Bok lock Flip van der Merwe and winger Bjorn Basson after they returned from the disastrous Castle Tri Nations tour of Australasia.
Both players will undergo fitness tests on Wednesday, with Van der Merwe nursing a rib injury and Basson a light concussion.
And while the Boks took the forefront of attention, that wasn’t all the injury news, as winger Gerhard van den Heever was ruled out, also with a shoulder injury.
There will also be fitness tests for Juandre Kruger, who has bruised ribs, and fullback Jurgen Visser, who has a hip injury. Reserve flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff is recovering from flu and should be declared fit.
Still, Pienaar should be able to welcome back a host of players, including hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, fullback Zane Kirchner, props Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling and flanker Deon Stegmann from Springbok duty.
It will be interesting to see where Pienaar uses Ralepelle, who was one of the few players to shine in the antipodes, as he will vie for a place with current Blue Bulls Currie Cup captain Gary Botha.