'Liefling' not in Bulls plans

2016-01-26 09:50
Derick Hougaard (Gallo Images)

Former Springbok Derick Hougaard may be planning a comeback but currently he doesn’t feature in the Bulls' plans for the season, reports.

There was widespread surprise at a report in a Sunday newspaper that said Hougaard, who is also known as the “Liefling” of Loftus, would be seeking to make a comeback and could be playing for the Bulls within three months.

The Bulls are about to name their pre-season squad for their tour of Zimbabwe and team-building exercise at Victoria Falls, and Hougaard isn’t part of any plans at the moment.

In fact, those quizzed at Loftus Versfeld say there are no plans to include him at all with the team even if he does get the green light to play again.

It seems that Hougaard may well want to play again for the Bulls, but he has not discussed any plans with the Bulls at all.

The report said that Hougaard would be visiting Free State-based surgeon Johan Kruger to see if his Achilles tendon injury is over and if it would allow him to take the field again.

“I have that burning desire in my heart to play again,” Hougaard told Rapport. “I want my last rugby chapter to be at Loftus. I'm excited about the opportunity to play again, but also realistic about it. I don't want to put all my hopes on it and be disappointed again if it's ultimately not possible.

“But I don't want to regret one day that I didn't try to make a return. Therefore, I decided to get a second and third opinion on my injury.”

Kruger is the orthopaedic surgeon who helped Bok flank Juan Smith return to action after he was told to retire and it seems Hougaard is pinning his hopes on a positive reaction from this diagnosis.

The Bulls currently have a bit of a crisis over the flyhalf spot with current Springbok pivot Handre Pollard set to miss the start of the season with a shoulder injury.

The union has the services of Francois Brummer, contracted from Griquas last year and Tiaan Schoeman, while Joshua Stander is the next player in line if there are injuries.

But when quizzed over the possibility of Hougaard joining the squad, coach Nollis Marais said he had no knowledge of any such plans.

It seems if Hougaard does overcome the medical concerns, he would have to get himself fit again and find a way of returning through the club system if he is to have a shot at playing Super Rugby again.

While nothing is impossible, there is also a concern about the head trauma that Hougaard had himself tested for last year, where he told Beeld newspaper the headaches he was suffering from was “a clear sign” that his rugby career was over.

Hougaard was cleared of any head injury after a plethora of tests.

Hougaard tried to make a similar comeback in 2013 but the Bulls made it clear at the time that they could not accommodate him in their Super Rugby plans.

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