CAPE TOWN – While losing Springboks Duane Vermeulen and Trevor Nyakane this week is a blow for the Bulls, coach Jake White will be delighted that he can call on Stravino Jacobs once more.
Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw released an injury update ahead of the Rainbow Cup, which is scheduled to start on Friday between the Stormers and Sharks in Cape Town, where he said that Bok prop Nyakane has sustained a rib injury that has ruled him out of the Pretoria side’s clash against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (4pm kickoff).
White is likely to call on Mornay Smith to replace Nyakane at No 3, as he has been the most impressive tighthead back-up off the bench over the last few months.
Another Bok tighthead, Marcel van der Merwe, has been allowed to join French club La Rochelle as a medical joker, having battled to display the form that made him a Test player before.
Captain Vermeulen has been working hard off the field to get back into top shape after a knee scope a few weeks ago, but is not quite ready to play as yet. Rossouw said that the Bok No 8, along with outside backs Gio Aplon (knee) and Travis Ismaiel (shoulder) have all begun with “unit training” this week, and it is hoped that the trio will return to full training in the next two weeks.
There was also good news on lock Walt Steenkamp, who has been battling with a heartbeat issue since contracting Covid-19 last year. Rossouw said that the specialist has cleared the former Cheetahs second-rower to get back into training, although he is not yet fit to play.
Loosehead prop Simphiwe Matanzima is also back in training after eight months out with a torn Achilles tendon.
But it is Jacobs who can make the most immediate difference for the Bulls. Having starred at wing, White believes he can become a top-class outside centre as well, and with Stedman Gans still out injured, Jacobs is an option at No 13 for the Lions game too.