Injuries take the gloss off the Bulls' Super Rugby victory over the Sharks
Injuries to tight five wrecking balls Lood de Jager and Liza Gqoboka took the gloss off the Bulls’ 39-33 Super Rugby victory over the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday.
Coach John Mitchell confirmed the injuries may be serious and that he would have to consider contingencies outside the Bulls’ group.
“Lizo has a toe problem.
"It is concerning. We’ll get them both x-rayed. We’ve got issues.
"We are currently looking at what we can loan‚ with the northern hemisphere South Africans finished and also some Pro14 teams finished as well. We are going to come up with a strategy in the next two weeks‚” said Mitchell.
De Jager’s Bok prospects next month may now also be in jeopardy.
Mitchell may have to consider roping in the Cheetahs’ Ox Nché as replacement for Gqoboka.
“It will be a setback but someone else will be ready‚” Mitchell said about De Jager’s pectoral muscle injury.
“It’s a shame‚ he has been in outstanding form.
"He looks like a good Test player week after week. We have to wait for the x-ray but in my own view I don’t think it is going to be that good.”
Despite the injuries‚ Mitchell was happy with the day’s work against the Sharks.
He acknowledged‚ however‚ that the yellow card to Curwin Bosch helped get them onto the front foot.
The game’s three yellow cards impacted on proceedings and Mitchell wasn’t convinced RG Snyman deserved time to repent in the sin bin.
“The game is getting a little bit tender if that is a yellow card.
"Unfortunately we had to deal with that‚” he said about the lock’s late shoulder charge.
Sound tactics‚ sturdy defence as well as a solid kicking game helped apply the squeeze on the Sharks.
Mitchell stopped just short of labelling the Sharks’ attack one dimensional.
“If you stop their momentum then their options become less‚" he said.
"At the back they obviously have pace but their alignment is very singular and that is a lot easier to defend in my view.
"So if you deal with the front door and you stop the offloading then you give yourself a chance to eat them up and force a skill error.”
Ultimately though he is pleased with how his team is growing.
“One of the things I’m enjoying in the character of the side is the maturity‚ and I guess the calmness that comes with it. We are able to reset and re-establish momentum.
“I think that is a really important part of growth. They were scoreboard focused before my time but now it’s about being consistent in our detail and processes.
"The guys are getting better at dealing with the momentum slides and getting momentum back.”
Mitchell believes the conference honours are potentially within their reach.
“It is in our hands‚"he said.
"This conference is going to go down to the wire. You’ve got New Zealand team‚ as well as our conference smashing each other over the next month. There is going to be a cost.
"We’ve had some costly injuries in this game.
“The Jaguares have done well on tour. They have probably been more consistent away than they’ve been at home. They are a different side.
"I studied them on Saturday morning in depth. I think I’ve got them worked out but it is going to take a fantastic mindset and attitude from us to go there.”