Fracture rules out Chiefs' Pulu
Sydney - The Chiefs have suffered a major blow as they prepare for next weekend's Super Rugby playoff at the Highlanders with the news that scrumhalf Augustine Pulu has been sidelined for up to 10 weeks by a fractured forearm.
The 25-year-old, who played two tests for the All Blacks on last year's November tour, fractured his right forearm in Saturday's 21-13 loss to the Hurricanes in Taranaki.
"Pulu underwent surgery earlier today to insert a plate. The expected return to play time is 8-10 weeks," the Chiefs said in a statement on Sunday.
The Chiefs have been without another All Black scrumhalf, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, for the entire season after he tore ligaments in his knee against South Africa last October.
There was some better news for the Chiefs earlier when centre Sonny Bill Williams received a "citing commissioner warning" for a high tackle in the 40th minute of the defeat.
Such warnings are issued for incidents which are very close to, but do not quite meet the threshold for a red card citing, which would usually result in a ban.
Williams will therefore be available for the New Zealand derby against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday, which will decide which of the two teams goes through to the semi-finals.
Saturday's other wildcard playoff pitches the Stormers against the Brumbies in Cape Town and the South African side look likely to lose the services of young back Robert du Preez after he was cited for a spear tackle.
The 21-year-old, son of a former Springbok scrumhalf of the same name, was making his Super Rugby debut in Saturday's 34-12 loss to the Sharks when he was yellow carded in the 76th minute for dangerous play.
Given the current crackdown on such tackles Du Preez is almost certain to be banned, although he would have been an unlikely starter against the Brumbies in any case given the Stormers rested 14 first choice players for the Sharks match.
The Canberra-based side have some concerns about a far more important member of their team after flank David Pocock failed a concussion test during Saturday's defeat to the Crusaders.
Coach Stephen Larkham said he expected the African-born Wallabies forward, who scored his eighth try of the season on Saturday, would be cleared to play at Newlands.
"Poey came off for a concussion test, so he's on a six-day, return-to-play protocol, but he should be fine," Larkham told reporters in Canberra.
"Six days back to playing is Friday and he can partake in training on the Wednesday, so he should be fine."