Bulls get well-earned break
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Pretoria - With their preparation for their defence of their Vodacom Super Rugby crown complete, the Bulls gave their players the best news they could receive ahead of the long season ahead – a five day holiday to rest.
The Bulls will open their defence on February 19 against neighbours, the Lions in Johannesburg, and coach Frans Ludeke was satisfied at the final training session on Tuesday morning that the team had ticked all the right boxes ahead of their off-period.
On Monday the team will return, with answers on the niggling questions of injuries to fullback Zane Kirchner, utility back Francois Hougaard, locks Bakkies Botha and Flip van der Merwe and midfielder Jaco Pretorius.
Luckily Kirchner’s rib injury, picked up on the weekend in the victory over the Premiers XV wasn’t as bad as feared, and with a few more days of rehab, the fullback could well be a late inclusion in the opening game against the Lions. Ditto for Hougaard, whose stress fracture on his foot is healing well.
With a bit of luck as well he could be back on the training field next week.
Botha (knee) and Van der Merwe (ankle) both have niggles and should be sorted out by next week when the team regathers to start their final preparations for the tournament. Pretorius though, while expected to be ready, is still being hampered by the back strain and there is still hope he will recover in times.
The only confirmed injury, therefore, is lock Juandre Kruger, whose broken finger, will keep him out of the first few weeks of the competition.
The Bulls will end their pre-season sessions on Tuesday with a backs vs forwards cricket game, where big things are expected, especially from their self-confessed batsman Dewald Potgieter.
Potgieter upped the banter on Tuesday, warning his team-mates on twitter that “I am known as the Donald Bradman of my generation by those who have seen me bat.”
The Bulls will be hoping when they regather those skills are more honed to rugby when they start their defence of their title.