Bakkies doubtful for Newlands

    2011-06-06 08:52
    J.J. Harmse

    Pretoria - Bakkies Botha has a knee injury and may not play for the Bulls in Saturday’s Super Rugby match against the Stormers at Newlands.

    The 32-year-old Springbok lock will play his 100th game for the Bulls if he travels to the Cape, but his lock partner and captain, Victor Matfield, revealed that Botha was struggling with a sore knee.

    "I don't know whether Bakkies will make it," said Matfield when asked about his team-mate's upcoming milestone.

    Botha did not appear to be struggling with the knee injury against the Waratahs on Friday night, but Sport24 understands that it's a chronic injury and flares up every now and then. This was confirmed by Bulls team doctor Org Strauss.

    "Yes, it's an old injury, but I believe we'll be able to get him on the field. Zane Kirchner and Gary Botha are also struggling with a sore shoulder and knee respectively, but I'm confident they will be fit," said Strauss.

    Botha will have mixed feelings about his 100th game if he travels to the Cape.

    He was captain last year when the Bulls took on the Stormers with a so-called B team. The Bulls got a proper hiding and Botha made himself unpopular by launching into Gio Aplon at a ruck.

    He was cited and suspended, which meant that he could not play in the semi-final and final of the Bulls' 2010 triumph.

    The Bulls will certainly be keeping fingers crossed that their bruiser will be on the flight with them.

    Notwithstanding the sore knee, Botha's form has improved as the season has progressed and he's playing excellent rugby at present.

    Botha's statistics show that, apart from his good lineout play and support in the tight loose, he is also doing his bit in ensuring turnover possession, is winning a lot of territory as ball-carrier and making important tackles.

    There was always the danger that Botha would not return the same player after all his disciplinary problems in 2010, but to date he has behaved well.

    He was cited after the Bulls' last game against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld for an alleged illegal tackle on Dewaldt Duvenage, but was found not guilty.

    His physical presence will be important against the Stormers, who have showed this year that they are shaving with twin blades. The Cape side even won the collisions in the last meeting between the sides.

    However, the Bulls' pack has been performing well as a unit in recent weeks and dominated the Sharks and Cheetahs up front.

    They were also in control against the Waratahs' strong pack before uncontested scrums reduced the game to a joke.

    Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said afterwards that consideration should be given to an additional prop on the substitutes bench.

    "We were definitely taking control, but lost momentum when their second prop was also injured as we could not dominate them there anymore."
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