Bulls’ Ndungane breaks leg again

2010-04-29 00:00

IT WAS a dramatic day of good and bad news for the Bulls at Loftus yesterday when they regained the abrasive services of veteran Springbok lock Bakkies Botha but lost international wing Akona Ndungane, who broke the same leg for the second time in six months.

Botha, returning from surgery on his Achilles tendon in December, has been rushed back into the starting line-up to face the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday night, taking over from fellow Bok Danie Rossouw in the second row.

In contrast, the career of Ndungane, returning to Super 14 action after breaking his leg in the Currie Cup last year, and selected for the crunch game, is now under threat after he went down with the same injury at the Bulls’ final practice yesterday.

Ndungane, the twin brother of Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane, slipped on the wet pitch as he turned to retrieve a ball. Initial reports suggested the injury was in the same place as the first break.

Ndungane was to return for John Mametsa in one of five changes to the team which thumped the Lions last weekend.

Francois Hougaard, who had himself been replaced by Mametsa for the Lions outing because of a hamstring strain, will now take his place on the wing.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the loss of Ndungane was a blow for the team.

“He has been with us for a long time and we were confident he would make a successful comeback against the Sharks. It’s sad but we need to go on.”

Captain Victor Matfield told News24 that the former Springbok wing had worked exceptionally hard during rehabilitation.

“He has been one of our stalwarts over the past five, six years and it is very sad that he won’t be able to make that comeback now. It just shows that you must enjoy every moment that you have in this game, because you never know when you’re going to be injured.”

Ludeke said he would not speculate as to whether the 29 year old’s career is over.

“It’s too early to say, we will wait for the X-rays to be taken and the specialist to give his opinion before we will know how bad it is,” he added.

Botha, who has played no rugby since last year, will rejoin his Springbok partner Matfield in a powerful second row, adding to the physicality of the Bulls pack. Rossouw, who showed excellent form against the Lions, drops to the bench with the promising Flip van der Merwe dropping out of the 22-man squad.

In the other changes to the back line, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, rested against the Lions, is back for Heini Adams while former Cheetahs flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter is selected at inside centre in place of the injured Jaco Pretorius. This has resulted in the in-form Wynand Olivier moving to outside centre.

Flank Deon Stegmann has been selected ahead of Derick Kuun.

“It’s good to have Bakkies back,” said Ludeke.

“It is also great to have four locks of the calibre of Bakkies, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw and Flip van der Merwe.”

Ludeke said that Botha had been selected after an impressive week’s training, but said that the “outstanding” Rossouw will be effective coming off the bench.

Sharks coach John Plumtree is waiting on late fitness tests on a number of players before he names his side today.

Loose forwards Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski are making their way back from injury and Plumtree is spoilt for choice with the current back row of Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes and Willem Alberts flourishing at the moment.

Deysel and Alberts, both big, bruising, hard-driving and solid-tackling loose forwards, play a similar game but Plumtree is delighted with their form.

“Willem and Jean have combined beautifully,” he said this week. “They’re good mates and have played together before as youngsters. They are so destructive.”

The Sharks coach said he had watched 120 kg Alberts closely when he was with the Lions.

“It was just a case of getting him fit and then settling him in with the Sharks and giving him game time. Now he has that, he has created competition among the loose forwards.

“The way Alberts has played these past three weeks has been outstanding. He has made big tackles, he carries the ball across the advantage line well and he’s aggressive in contact.

“He has developed his game and he and Jean Deysel are a couple of wrecking balls.”

Plumtree said that the combination of the two big loose forwards and Kankowski’s brilliance in phase play will prove “a pretty effective unit”.

“When the tight five is working well, that loose trio can work well together,” he said.

The game will kick off at 7.10 pm.

Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Wynand Olivier, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn,

Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Gary Botha, Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: Bandise Maku, Bees Roux, Danie Rossouw, Derick Kuun, Heini Adams, Stephan Dippenaar, Pedrie Wannenburg.


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