Cape Town - Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard is only likely to return to the rugby field in 2017 after rupturing knee ligaments in training.
The Bulls on Monday announced that Pollard will be sidelined for at least nine months. This effectively means he will miss the entire Super Rugby season as well as South Africa’s June Tests against Ireland, the Rugby Championship and the year-end tour to Europe in November.
He will be operated on Wednesday, the Bulls confirmed via a press statement.
Pollard's injury came on the first day of his return to rugby and according to Bulls coach Nollis Marais, was a freak accident.
"Handre was easing back into training, his first phase of final rehab before being cleared to play and was busy with a passing drill when he injured himself. This is pretty devastating for all of us, as Handre was a key player for us. We are fortunate to have two very capable flyhalves still in our squad in Tian Schoeman and Francois Brummer. They now get the opportunity to showcase their skills and I am confident that we can still achieve our goals for the season."
According to Marais, Pollard had recovered well from the shoulder injury he picked up playing club rugby in Japan for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
Pollard boasts 20 Test caps for the Springboks since making his debut against Scotland in June 2014.