The Springboks will have to manage without World Cup scrumhalf Fourie du Preez in the two Tests against Wales next month.
Du Preez fractured a small bone in his left hand during Bulls’ last Super14 match of the season on Saturday.
Morris Gilbert writes in Beeld that Bulls team doctor Tommie Smook confirmed on Sunday that Du Preez will be out of action for six weeks and will also have to undergo a minor operation to the injured hand.
He left the field early in the match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and was replaced by the exciting young Francois Hougaard.
However, if all goes according to plan, Du Preez should be able to be considered for the Boks’ Three Nations tour starting on July 5 with the Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Du Preez is not the only scrumhalf the Bulls may have to do without in the first month of the Currie Cup series.
Heini Adams was included in the Sprinbok training squad on Saturday and Hougaard will represent the South African Under-20s in the World Cup tournament in Wales.
This could make JP Joubert, who excelled in the Bulls’ Vodacom Cup side, first choice for the scrumhalf berth.
The Bulls’ Currie Cup preparation starts only in two weeks’ time, but the double blow they dealt the Cheetahs this past weekend was an excellent practice run.
Talent in the junior ranks
The Bulls’ nailbiting victory over the Free State Cheetahs in the Vodacom Cup match emphasised the talent in the junior ranks. Players like Burton Francis, Rocco Jansen, Stephan Dippenaar, Stephan Watermeyer, Braam Gerber, Okkie Kruger, Gerrit-Jan van Velzen, Fudge Mabeta, Hendrik Roodt, Dean Greyling, Flip Kirsten, Brett Sharman and Vincent Gwavu could still make their mark in a big way in Bulls rugby.
And the performance of other young players, like Hougaard, Deon Stegmann and Werner Kruger, against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein makes the future look even rosier.
It is quite ironic that Stegmann (flank) was one of two ex-Free Staters who helped dig the Cheetahs’ grave early on. He was excellent at points of breakdown.
With a personal contribution of 25 points the other former Free Stater, Morné Steyn (flyhalf), showed that he is at his best against the Cheetahs. In addition to a try he also succeeded with seven conversions, one penalty and one drop goal.Tweet