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Wednesday, 03 April 2024 12:17

Marco Van Staden out for Bulls, White faces loose trio choices.

By Brenden Nel.

It may not be a loose trio crisis in the purest sense of the word, but the Vodacom Bulls have some tough choices to make in team selection this weekend in their Investec Champions Cup Round of 16 clash against French side Lyon.

The stark reality is that World Cup winner Marco van Staden is out of the game, as the Bulls await further news on his knee injury. Van Staden injured medial ligaments in the loss against Leinster in Dublin last Friday night but the initial prognosis has been better than expected.

"Marco is out for this weekend. We are waiting for the MRI but the doc doesn’t think it is as bad as initially expected. But again I’m waiting for the MRI. And I don't want to say that and then it is something else," Director of Rugby Jake White said from the Loftus Versfeld sidelines.

"Again, he could have stayed on, but he has a big year ahead of him. He could have strapped it but I thought just now everything goes on his knee and then he is out for 9 months and I didn't want that."

There is still a question mark over the fitness of Cameron Hanekom, the young upstart that has been the find of the season for the Bulls this year. Hanekom missed the mini tour because of a hamstring injury and White was non commital about his fitness for this weekend’s match.

That could just be a way of not giving away too many secrets but the Bulls may have some choices to make in terms of their playing style because of Van Staden’s absence.

The tandem Van Staden-Marcell Coetzee partnership has worked well with the two hunting ball together this season and while Hanekom offers other strengths, his ball carrying ability is a big plus for the Bulls.

Celimpilo Gumede replaced Van Staden this weekend and in the absence of Hanekom is likely to be there again along with Coetzee and Van Staden but the balance of the loose trio may make White look at someone like Nizaam Carr again for that roving role.

The bad news is that Jannes Kirsten, who was due to be back at this point, will still be eased back into action, and still hasn't made an appearance since being joining the team last August while Cyle Brink is on the sidelines for four months with an ankle injury.