Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard will not play again this year and will undergo surgery next week.
Jan de Koning, Rugby365
Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed to thi
s website that a chronic ankle injury has flared up again and the 25-year-old, capped 27 times for his country, will go under the knife next Thursday.
“You have to fix it now, otherwise it will just get worse,” Strauss said of the No.9 – who featured in the Bulls’ 23-26 Super Rugby semifinal loss to the Brumbies in Pretoria last Saturday.
While the doctor was reluctant to put an exact time frame on his recovery, as the full extent of the damage will only be revealed during surgery, it is unlikely he will start training before December.
Flank Deon Stegmann will also miss the entire Currie Cup campaign, after medical tests revealed a shoulder injury that requires surgery.
They join other long-term injury setbacks on the Bulls books like Arno Botha, Pierre Spies and Louis Fouché – none of whom will play again this year.
Rudi Paige and Ruan Snyman are the options at scrumhalf for the Bulls, with the Currie Cup season less than two weeks away.
In the national team the No.9 options include Cheetahs star Piet van Zyl, who ironically is bound to return to Pretoria later this year. And, of course, there is also Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar and Jano Vermaak, who is heading to Toulouse in France.
All in all the Bulls are losing the services of eight international players.