The Vodacom Bulls received a setback before the season has even begun with the news that Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has injured his shoulder and may be out for some time.
Pollard returned from Japan where his club NTT Doccomo were ousted from the Japanese championship and are now fighting relegation.
The Bulls will be hoping the injury isn’t too serious, but there are already concerns that he may not be able to play in the warm-up games or perhaps even miss the start of the season with the Bulls opener against the DHL Stormers at Newlands not too far off.
Pollard told supersport.com that the injury wasn’t a new one, but that it was troubling him somewhat and that it needed to get sorted out before a long season ahead.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais admitted he was a worried man, especially as Pollard is one of the few senior players in an extremely young Bulls team heading into the Vodacom Super Rugby season and is also the vice-captain of the team for the coming season.
“Handre is a bit of a concern at the moment, we will have a discussion with his specialist and see what the route forward is,” Marais said on the injury.
“We need to decide how serious it is – is it only a two week rehab or is it more serious. I’m waiting for Thys de Beer to give me a call regarding the shoulder.”
The Bulls will probably use veteran Francois Brummer, who started his career at Loftus before moving to the Cheetahs and returned at the end of last year, for their warm-up games against the Cheetahs in Harare and the Lions in Polokwane.
“It is a major concern for us, but luckily we brought in Francois Brummer last year because I knew if something like this happens, we will have a bit of a problem,” Marais continued.
“Tiaan (Schoeman) is also coming back from injury, he will be on the field next week. He had that meniscus injury so it just basically a last week of rehab that is left before he can play again.”
The other big concern for the Bulls is winger/fullback Duncan Matthews, who injured his knee warming up during Monday’s training.
The speedster was due to be cover for Warrick Gelant and Jesse Kriel at fullback this season but the knee injury looks bad and seems to suggest a few weeks on the sidelines at least. Considering Matthews missed the Currie Cup because of an injury, the timing could not have been worse.
“Duncan is also a big issue for me, as he got injured in training, came back this morning and it might be ligaments, so we will have to wait and see,” Marais said.
The rest of the training group looks good, with Warrick Gelant set to return this week and the rest of the overseas contingent in Japan set to return this coming weekend.
The Bulls are set to name their group to head to Zimbabwe for the Cheetahs game as well as a bit of team-building, later this week.