Bakkies to miss much of Super 14, with Boks wary of burn-out

2010-01-06 00:00

A PALL of gloom settled over Pretoria yesterday when it was confirmed that Springbok lock Bakkies Botha would miss much of this year’s Super 14, but the news should prove a blessing in disguise for South African rugby.

The Super 14 champions will be without their robust lock for three months while he recovers from an Achilles’ tendon operation but the world-class but overplayed Springbok will benefit from the break ahead of the international season and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year.

The demanding 2009 season took its toll on Botha who also struggled with a knee injury and suffered on the European tour.

Medical sports boffin Tim Noakes last year warned that the overplayed Springbok players would break down in 2010 and urged national coach Peter de Villiers to rest his senior players and omit them from the November tour of Europe.

Noakes said that they needed at least a two-month rest period if they were to not suffer a blow-out. At least Botha will have that break and the Bulls do have strong lock back-up in Danie Rossouw, Wilhelm Steenkamp and Flip van der Merwe.

Bulls captain Victor Matfield said yesterday that he agreed Test players needed to be carefully managed ahead of the 2011 World Cup but they should not be rested for Test matches.

Another Bulls’ Test player, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, is also still sidelined with the foot injury that resulted in him missing the end of the Currie Cup season and returning home early from the South African tour of Europe, while two other Boks, scrumhalf Heini Adams (ankle) and wing Akona Ndungane (broken leg), are still recovering from injury.

The Bulls will play in only one Super 14 warm-up game – against the Lions in Polokwane on January 30.

Bulls manager Wynie Strydom said he was positive about the Bulls’ build-up.

“We started our training at Loftus on Monday with fitness tests and it was pleasing to see that all the guys are in excellent shape,” he said.

The Bulls begin their Super 14 campaign against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 12, with the Lions hosting the Stormers the next day.

According to News 24, new Bulls signings — Jacques-Louis Potgieter who returns after his stint with the Free State Cheetahs and Griquas tighthead prop Bees Steyn – have trained with the Bulls this week.

Former Bok centre De Wet Barry, Potgieter and Steyn were part of the Bulls’ training camp in George before their two-week break over Christmas. A decision on Barry’s future with the Bulls will be taken towards the end of January.

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