The Bulls have suffered a blow to their plans ahead of the Super Rugby trip to Argentina to take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday night with the news that influential centre Johnny Kotze has been ruled out due to meningitis.
Kotze‚ who scored the third Bulls try in their comprehensive 40-3 victory over the Stormers‚ has been replaced by former Springboks winger Cornal Hendricks in the only change to the squad from Saturday.
“He has meningitis and he will be out for at least two weeks‚” said Bulls coach Pote Human at Loftus on Tuesday morning.
“It is unfortunate that he is not available for us for this trip, but at the same time it is fortunate for Cornal. He is looking forward to his first Super Rugby game in a while.
“He is very hungry and motivated. I am looking forward to seeing him play at this level again. We will bank on his experience from previous years and when I told him that he is going to play he was very happy about the opportunity. He promised me that he would not let the team down and I am happy for him.”
Human said captain Lood de Jager had flu, but he hoped the big lock would respond positively to treatment and lead the team in Buenos Aires, where they are looking for their first win in the competition.
Human said they played a near-perfect game in the win over the Stormers but he was unhappy after his charges gave away four penalties in the opening six minutes.
“We played the right game plan against the Stormers and if we continue like that we will be successful‚” he said. “What worried me last weekend was that in the first six minutes we gave away four penalties and that kept them in the game for that period. Fortunately we were able to recover and play well for the rest of the game.”
Human said they had to prevent the Jaguares from throwing the ball around and executing their set-pieces if they were to return home with a win from the imposing José Amalfitani Stadium.
“We have to put their set-piece under pressure and play in the right areas.
“We defended very well against the Stormers but they bring another threat because they like to throw the ball around‚ especially from turnover balls.
“We must put them under pressure and keep the crowd quiet because they can be dangerous if they get a sniff.
“We are travelling on Wednesday to get in their time zone and hopefully on Saturday we will be fine. Everybody knows that the Bulls have not won there before in this tournament and a win will give us a lot of confidence.”
Blue Bulls Rugby Union president Willem Strauss announced the Volcano U20 competition where leading clubs from around Pretoria will battle it out in a strength versus strength environment to unearth more talent.
Bulls squad: Warrick Gelant‚ Cornal Hendricks‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Burger Odendaal‚ Rosko Specman‚ Handré Pollard‚ Embrose Papier‚ Duane Vermeulen‚ Hanro Liebenberg‚ Ruan Steenkamp‚ Lood de Jager‚ Jason Jenkins‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Schalk Brits‚ Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: Corniel Els‚ Simphiwe Matanzima‚ Dayan van der Westhuizen‚ Eli Snyman‚ Thembelani Bholi‚ Ivan van Zyl‚ Manie Libbok‚ Dylan Sage