Saturday’s Polokwane excursion will have been a frustrating one for Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, with a seemingly serious knee injury to Bok flank Arno Botha overshadowing narrow losses in both warm-up games played.
While one could argue that results certainly aren’t the most vital thing at this stage of the season, the fact that the Bulls have opted for no further hit outs ahead of their Super Rugby opener against the Sharks in a fortnight will mean that they’ll now head into the season proper without the comfort of any sort of win under their belts. In the first match, the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup team – admittedly packed with youngsters, but also boasting a few players of Super Rugby calibre who joined from the Kings last year – went down 24-26 to a Lions selection that looked of roughly equivalent strength. It’s unlikely, though, that Ludeke would have been looking at that side for much in the way of inspiration, since it comprised largely the same group of players that failed to make an impact at Currie Cup level last year.
The main game was a different story, with Ludeke’s likely first-choice combination up against the Stormers and the coach will take something from his side’s charge to an early 12-5 lead. Late changes, including the addition of one Victor Matfield, seemed to unsettle the Bulls, though and they eventually succumbed 19-26, with a late try to Kings import Scott van Breda settling the result.
Botha, though, was helped from the field in the 55th minute nursing the same knee that cost him a six-month spell on the sidelines in 2013. While no prognosis is yet forthcoming, the assumption is that he will now spend at least the first part of the 2014 season in the same manner.
Update: Botha has confirmed, via Twitter, that he has suffered a recurrence of the same injury and will be out of rugby for at least 6 months.Tweet