The Blue Bulls’ hopes of getting a good start to this year’s Currie Cup is still being hampered by injuries and the unavailability of their Springbok players.
This week will see Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke put together the finishing touches to his master plan of recapturing the most coveted trophy in domestic rugby, writes Vata Ngobeni for the Pretoria News.
Ludeke, though, will not have the luxury of a full strength squad nor the required experience to call on as the Blue Bulls repair the damage done to their dented egos after suffering an indifferent Super 14 campaign.
The biggest challenge for the Blue Bulls ahead of their match against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday is at scrumhalf. Ludeke only has JP Joubert available as Fourie du Preez and Heini Adams are still injured while Francois Hougaard is away with the SA Under 20 team at the IRB World Junior Championships.
Elsewhere in the backline, Ludeke will also have to find a replacement for fullback Zane Kirchner who is still suffering from a groin injury sustained during the Super 14. Ludeke is expected to call on Tiger Mangweni to fill in for Kirchner.
A more worrying dilemma for Ludeke is at centre with Wynand Olivier and Marius Delport being the only experienced players left after the sudden departure of long time servant JP Nel to a lucrative contract in Japan. Springbok centre Wayne Julies’ knee injury – which has kept him out of the game since the end of last year – will see him on the sidelines for at least another six weeks.
Coupled with the injuries to vital players, Ludeke will also only have access to six of his Springboks at the end of August when the Tri-Nations have been concluded.
But with the bad comes some good as Springbok flanker and likely captain for the start of the Currie Cup Wikus van Heerden has recovered from his knee injury and will resume full training with the team on Monday.
Another Springbok in hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has also finally recovered from his knee injury.
Young loose forward Dewald Potgieter is another who is fit again (after a hamstring injury) and will be available to take his place in the Blue Bulls team if selected by Ludeke.
“There are still a few guys out but I can confirm that Wikus will train with the team and will be available to play against the Lions and so will Dewald Potgieter,” said Blue Bulls team doctor Org Strauss yesterday.
“Chiliboy is now 100 percent too and will also be available.”
At least Ludeke has had the time he needs to assess the injury situation at the club and has surely made some plans to safeguard his master blueprint that will hopefully see the Blue Bulls rise, again, to the top of domestic rugby.Tweet