Pretoria - The Bulls were hit with a massive blow on Wednesday when Springbok wing Akona Ndungane broke his leg in the team’s final full practice session at Loftus Versfeld.
Ndungane was due to make his return to the side after the exact same injury in last year’s Absa Currie Cup which kept him out of action for six months. While it can’t be confirmed just yet, it is thought that he snapped the bone in the exact same place as the last time.
The cruel blow could well turn out to be a career-threatening one for the Bok wing but it was too early to speculate on the seriousness of the injury in that regard.
Ndungane was in the starting line-up for the Sharks game, and was due to replace John Mametsa in the starting line-up as one of the changes from the side that beat the Lions 51-11 last weekend. He will now be replaced by Francois Hougaard, who Mametsa replaced at the last minute last weekend after the utility back pulled a hamstring in the team’s captain’s run on Friday.
“He is one of the guys who has been in our system for a very long time now, and we had a lot of hope that he would make a successful comeback this weekend. It’s sad but we need to go on,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said. Captain Victor Matfield said it was a massive blow for the team, who had supported Ndungane in his bid to make the comeback to Super 14 rugby.
“It’s a big loss, and he worked very hard to be able to make the comeback this weekend,” Matfield said, “He has been one of our stalwarts over the past five, six years and it is very sad that he won’t be able to make that comeback now.
“We’re lucky that Francois Hougaard is able to slot in and he has played there well this season for us. It just shows that you must enjoy every moment that you have in this game, because you never know when you’re going to be injured.”
Ludeke cautioned about talk that Ndungane’s career may be over.
“It’s too early to say, we will wait for the X-rays to be taken, and the specialist to give his opinion before we will know how bad it is,” Ludeke added.
Ndungane was running back to fetch a kick when he turned and slipped on the wet field, going down with his team-mates hearing a loud crack. He was taken to the Little Company of Mary hospital.