- In a boost for the much maligned Super Rugby Unlocked, all indications currently are that the already shifted Bulls-Pumas fixture will take place.
- Jake White, the Bulls’ director of rugby, said his info is that the Lowvelders have enough players available and that the delay is rather to determine whether a few self-isolating players can still be considered.
- Morne Steyn misses out on selection due to Covid-19 protocols.
The Bulls will in all likelihood have the opportunity to culminate their successful Super Rugby Unlocked campaign properly by taking on the Pumas at Loftus on Saturday.
That’s what Jake White, the franchise’s director of rugby, is “reading between the lines” with the current information at his disposal.
SA Rugby will only confirm the status of the fixture on Friday when the results of another round of Covid-19 testing for the Pumas players are known.
The Lowvelders had their game against the Lions last week postponed due to three players testing positive.
However, it would seem that the possibility of Pumas mentor Jimmy Stonehouse being able to still pick four players that were in quarantine as identified close contacts is the main reason for the delay instead of concerns over a potential outbreak within the wider squad.
“The feedback I’ve received – and this is based only on what our president and CEO have told me – is that the Pumas have been training with a full-strength squad this whole week,” White said on Thursday.
“By full-strength I mean that everyone is allowed to play. The guys that were on the fence, those that were in close contact with the players that did test positive, they were tested (on Thursday). They weren’t positive, just close contacts.
“The way I read it, the game is on. It just depends now on whether the Pumas have access to the players that were in isolation for their match squad. If not, they still have a full 23-man squad that can travel to Pretoria.”
Pumas team management confirmed to Sport24 that the whole available squad, including the players in precautionary isolation, were tested on Thursday, with results expected early on Friday.
“All the players that tested positive last week will only return to camp early next week, subject to testing,” said Marius van Rensburg, the franchise’s operations and team manager.
“We’ll be announcing our team on Friday.”
Meanwhile, veteran pivot Morne Steyn isn’t part of the Bulls’ match squad because of Covid-19 protocols.
“His child was christened last Sunday and it subsequently emerged that one person who was part of the sermon tested positive,” said White.
“We didn’t train on Monday and on Tuesday our whole squad was tested including Morne. But we decided not to risk him. He’ll be tested again on Friday just to see if he’s still doing well. All our players tested negative, we’re ready to play.”
Kick-off at Loftus is at 14:00.
15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren