Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez could be the major surprise when the Vodacom Bulls name their team for the crunch match against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
Du Preez, who was injured three weeks ago against the Sharks and had a grade 2 medial ligament tear, was seen running without any problems at the team’s practice session on Monday and has an outside chance of making the match 22 for the big game this weekend.
His knee injury has healed faster than expected and he started running last week already, but team doctor Org Strauss confirmed that he may well be considered for the starting line-up.
“He is looking good and the injury has responded well, but we will have to see how he fairs this week. He could be considered for selection this week though,” Dr Strauss confirmed.
The Springbok general, who is still the best scrumhalf in the country, would be a welcome boost to the Bulls hopes of scoring an upset win against the Stormers at Newlands.
However whether the Bulls will feel the risk in rushing Du Preez back is worth it, is another scenario. The Bok halfback is vital to the Springbok cause this year with the Rugby World Cup looming and it may be unwise to push him back into action too soon.
There is no doubt the Bulls will be consulting with the Springbok management in any case about Du Preez’ latest prognosis and this discussion may lead them to decide whether or not to use him this weekend.
The Bulls need to win their remaining games to be assured of a playoff spot while the Stormers can assure themselves of winning the South African conference if they win the game on Saturday.
But while the news about the Bok halfback is positive, there have been some concerns about knocks taken by the two Bothas – Gary and Bakkies – during the hard-fought win over the Waratahs on Saturday.
Both are struggling with knee injuries from the game, but these do not seem to serious, with Dr Strauss predicting a recovery for both and that neither will miss the big clash.
Fullback Zane Kirchner has a shoulder injury but is sure to be fit for selection while winger Akona Ndungane, who pulled out of the clash against the Waratahs on Thursday with an ankle injury, is also expected to be fit for selection.