JP Nel playing for the Bulls in 2009 (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former Bulls centre JP Nel could make a surprise return to Super Rugby at the injury-plagued Lions outfit.
Nel, 31, is currently without a team after his contract with the NTT Shining Arcs in Japan came to an end.
The Beeld newspaper reports Nel's keen to head for France but the Lions have already enquired if he's available after Doppies la Grange became their latest centre on the injured list.
With Waylon Murray and Dylan des Fountain also out for extended periods, the Lions are waiting anxiously to see if Lionel Mapoe and Alwyn Hollenbach will pass fitness tests ahead of Saturday's clash with the Crusaders.
Should their midfield situation worsen, Nel could be asked to join the Johannesburg team for a couple of weeks.
Nel won the Super Rugby competition twice with the Bulls before leaving South Africa in 2009.
Shortly before his departure he was banned for four weeks for a dangerous tackle on the Sharks' Stefan Terblanche. That kept him from playing for the Bulls in the 2009 Super Rugby final, when they demolished the Chiefs. After that incident he said he would never play Super Rugby again because he believed he was unfairly banned due to a stigma of previous transgressions.
Nel developed a reputation for his suspect tackling and was also banned in 2007 (stiff arm tackle) and 2008 (tip tackle).