Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The Bulls were hit by a further double blow as they lost both Springboks Akona Ndungane and Jacques Potgieter to injury ahead of Friday's Super Rugby opener against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld.
According to the supersport.com website, the blow means that coach Frans Ludeke won’t have the luxury of picking from a fully-fit squad, as he had hoped to, and will need to find replacements for the duo.
Already without Wilhelm Steenkamp, Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe, all of whom are on the sidelines with long-term injuries, the Bulls decided on Monday afternoon not to risk the two Boks ahead of a long and taxing season.
Still, with the amount of depth the Bulls have this season, their replacements are no slouches either.
Ndungane’s ankle injury – he twisted it in the pre-season game against the Cheetahs in Polokwane a fortnight ago, is still tender and it was decided not to risk him, even though he celebrates his 32nd birthday this week and is itching to get onto the field.
The same goes for Potgieter, who starred in the Bulls’ pre-season video version of the song Stand by me. While the bearded loose forward still had time to field jokes about his performance off the field, he did admit that the groin injury that has been plaguing him for the past week is something he feels needs another week of rest.
With the duo out of contention, Lions utility back Lionel Mapoe will shift into the wing position for a mouth-watering clash with Bryan Habana while Potgieter’s place is likely to be between fetcher Deon Stegmann and rising star Arno Botha.