Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The Vodacom Bulls were given a massive boost on returning to Loftus Versfeld from their enforced bye with the news that both midfielder Johann Sadie and lock Flip van der Merwe have been cleared of injury.
The Bulls face the defending champion Queensland Reds, a side they desperately want to beat in this year’s competition, and look set to be able to field a fully-fit side if things go well.
Sadie injured his shoulder in the opening game of Vodacom Super Rugby this season against the Sharks, and has been on the sideline for three weeks now. His return to training on Monday was probably the most positive aspect of the session, which also saw halfback Francois Hougaard back in action.
Hougaard has served his one match ban and is set to return to the No 9 spot against Wallaby halfback Will Genia in a battle that is mouth-watering on its own.
Van der Merwe, meanwhile, is back from his ankle injury, sustained in the loss against the Blues and while there were fears that it might be more serious, a week off has done wonders for the big lock and he is set to return to action.
The only real worry at the moment is Bok flanker Deon Stegmann, who withdrew from the Bulls team on the eve of the Blues game with a hamstring injury, and while he was one of the few who didn’t take the field Monday at training, it seems more as a precaution than anything else.
Stegmann will know on Tuesday what his fate will be and whether he will be part of the Bulls squad for the Reds match.
The Bulls are sure to take all factors into account with Stegmann as the lack of a fetcher was one of their problems at the breakdown against the Blues, who fielded two and were rewarded for their adventure.
Sadie’s return is likely to mean a drop to the bench for youngster Francois Venter as Wynand Olivier and the former Stormers player will link up in the midfield.