- Upcoming Bulls prop Simphiwe Matanzima will be out for at least nine months after completely tearing his left Achilles heel.
- The 22-year-old loosehead underwent successful surgery on Friday after sustaining the injury during a conditioning session this week.
- While the Bulls are still well-stocked in the position, a national call-up for Lizo Gqoboka could make things tricky for director of rugby and head coach Jake White.
South African rugby's return to training has claimed its first victim.
The Bulls on Friday evening announced that Simphiwe Matanzima will back on the sidelines for at least nine months after suffering a complete tear of his left Achilles tendon.
The 23-year-old loosehead prop, considered one of the cornerstones of the franchise's pack in future, sustained the injury during a conditioning session earlier in the week.
Matanzima had to undergo surgery, which has been successful but accounts for the extended period out of the game.
He is expected to make a complete recovery.
"It's a long road, but we have no doubt that (Simphiwe) will tackle it head on with a positive energy, and come out smiling as he always does," the Bulls said in a statement.
It completes a miserable 2020 on the injury front for Matanzima, who also had to contend with a shoulder injury early in the curtailed Super Rugby campaign that kept him out for six weeks.
While the Bulls are well-stocked in the No 1 jersey with Lizo Gqoboka, Gerhard Steenekamp and recent recruit Jacques van Rooyen in the senior group for the looming Currie Cup, a national call-up for Gqoboka could put them under pressure.
Reservations have been expressed from some quarters that lockdown's downtime could pose a potential risk for more niggling fitness problems.
- Compiled by Heinz Schenk