With test rugby a bit on the background we move our attention to the Super Rugby competition which will see the African conferences in action this week but there are a few injury concerns for some teams this late in the competition
The Bulls looks worst of all the teams when they returned to Loftus on Monday starting to prepare for this weekend clash against the Sharks.
They have atleast 13 players on the list and will have to reshuffle the team ahead of this weekends match.
Wingers Jamba Ulengo (knee) and Travis Ismaiel (knee) both a week away from action, their loss against the Lions in the SuperSport Challenge last Friday saw them lose two more wingers in Jade Stiglingh (broken cheekbone) and Rabs Maxwane (concussion) in the same game. Maxwane’s concussion is his second of the season, meaning he will need to undergo a mandatory six week layoff before returning to action.
In addition to this the return of Handre Pollard has been put on hold because of inflammation to his injured ankle, and his return is also a week away still.
The other bad news is that hooker Edgar Marutlule injured his ankle badly in Mauritius and underwent an operation on Monday that will also keep him out of action for six weeks.
Then there are the other injuries that compound selection, including fullback Ulrich Beyers (calf), Piet van Zyl (lung infection), Martin Dreyer (ankle), Hendre Stassen (knee), Johnny Kotze (knee) and captain Hanru Liebenberg (ankle) that will also not be available for selection this week.
The good news however, is that Springbok flanker Roelof Smit, who has not played a minute of Super Rugby this season, is fit and available for selection. The Bulls will have to decide whether to throw him in the deep end against the Sharks, or rather opt for Shaun Adendorff, with Smit heading back to the Blue Bulls for the SuperSport Challenge quarter-finals.
The Stormers are facing the Cheetahs and coach Fleck have some decisions of his own to make as well concerning some injuries.
Oli Kebble and Ali Vermaak are both struggling with injuries. Kebble is expected back for the last home league match against the Sunwolves on 8 July.
Back in the mix this week after missing the defeat to the Sharks is flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, but Fleck won’t be able to consider talented young inside centre Dan du Plessis, who dislocated his shoulder playing for Western Province against the SWD Eagles in the Supersport Challenge on Sunday.
With De Allende out and Scotland international Hugh Jones, who is back in training, only due back in the selection next week, Fleck has something to think about at centre. Juan de Jongh made his comeback as a replacement against the Sharks and is due for a start, but former Highlander Shaun Treeby is also now available again after completing the suspension that he incurred after being cited following the Newlands win over the Blues. EW Viljoen is the other centre in the frame and as he has played in every game he should be expected to wear the No 13 in Bloemfontein.
With all those players expected to be available from the Sunwolves game onwards, Fleck will have an abundance of midfield resources, with De Allende, De Jongh and Jones all boasting international experience.
Wallabies and Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu has been ruled out for at least six weeks with an ankle injury sustained in the 40-27 win over Italy.
It also means that Naivalu will take no further part in the Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby campaign. Naivalu twisted his leg going into a collision with Italian centre Tommaso Boni, ending his night against Italy and any chance of another Super Rugby outing this season.
It was a tough blow for the 25-year-old, who had scored a double before going off, including a spectacular exhibition of his pace to spark the Wallabies’ attack early in Brisbane.
The Lions will be looking for a new captain for their match against the Sunwolves on Saturday as Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is set to be on the sidelines for around three weeks.
According to the supersport.com website, Whiteley will get confirmation on Monday from a specialist about the groin injury that kept him out of the Springboks’ third Test victory over France this past weekend.
Confirmation from sources close to the team have confirmed that Whiteley is expected to be out for three weeks but should be ready in time for the playoff matches in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.
Cell C Sharks
Sharks lock Ruan Botha has been suspended for three matches following a disciplinary hearing after his red card in the match between South Africa ‘A’ and the French Barbarians at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday evening.
Botha was red carded in the 39th minute of the match when which he “charged into a ruck dangerously, leading with the arm and shoulder making contact with the opponent’s face.”
The player admitted foul play and agreed that the issue of a red card was appropriate