Hougaard to miss rest of the season
The Springboks were dealt their first injury blow before the start of the season after halfback Francois Hougaard was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Hougaard, who was part of the Vodacom Bulls team that lost the Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, will undergo surgery on his ankle next week and is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season.
The Bok, who has often been used on the wing, both at Super Rugby and Springbok level, has sustained an ankle injury and the Bulls medical team confirmed he will miss the rest of the year’s action.
“It isn’t the same ankle injury that has been plaguing him,” team doctor Org Strauss explained. “This is a different injury he picked up and we believe it the right course of action that he undergoes surgery.”
Hougaard’s season is simply one he would want to forget.
After so much promise at the beginning of the year he picked up an ankle injury and the bruising around the ankle plagued him so much that he had to return home from the Bulls’ overseas tour early.
While he was called up to the Boks for the June internationals, he lost his place to his teammate Jano Vermaak and then was sent back from the Bok camp early to recover from the ankle injury.
Upon returning to the Bulls he played just one game before withdrawing from the side twice, before suddenly making a reappearance for the Bulls in the semifinal, where he struggled with both his defence and his kicking.
Hougaard’s departure means that Jano Vermaak is likely to join Ruan Pienaar as Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s choices at No 9, with Piet van Zyl doing back-up duty as he did in the June tests where he made his debut.
The Bok squad for the Castle Rugby Championship is set to be announced later this week.
Other players who will miss out are injured Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Frans Steyn, Frans Malherbe and Pieter-Steph du Toit. JP Pietersen and Andries Bekker are also not available as they have commitments at their Japanese clubs and therefore won’t be selected.
Duanne Vermeulen is one player who has recovered from his injury and should be back in the squad.