The embattled Bulls were dealt another cruel blow on Tuesday when captain Fourie du Preez was ruled out of the Round 10 Super 14 encounter with the Highlanders because of a hand injury.
Coach Frans Ludeke confirmed that Du Preez had suffered the injury several weeks ago and have been battling through the pain barrier in recent weeks.
Jan De Koning of Rugby 365 reports that Du Preez injured his hand in Week Four against the Lions and played for more than a month, while the injury steadily got worse.
Team doctor Tommie Smook confirmed that it was “severe bruising” rather than a fracture and was “hopeful” that Du Preez will be available for selection for next week’s encounter with the Waratahs.
However, Ludeke said they expect him to be sidelined for two to three weeks, although he was confident the World Cup-winning scrumhalf would be back for the last few matches.
“We will see how the injury responds to treatment,” Ludeke told rugby365.com.
The captaincy will now go to flank Wikus van Heerden for the encounter with the Highlanders and Heini Adams will wear the No.9 jersey.
Young Francois Hougaard, a scrumhalf who is currently in France with the South African Under 20-team at the International Rugby Board (IRB) U20 World Championship, will fly home later this week and sit on the bench against the Highlanders.
Hougaard toured with the Bulls to Australasia and is familiar with the calls and patterns.
The Bulls’ injury problems don’t end there.
According to Ludeke flyhalf Derrick Hougaard has a bruised buttock muscle and is unlikely to start against the Highlanders, but will play some part in the game.
His place is likely to be taken by Morne Steyn.
Ludeke will announce his team on Wednesday.Tweet