Flip, they've lost a lock
The Vodacom Bulls will have to do without Flip van der Merwe this weekend after the big lock sustained a hip injury against the Sharks in Durban.
Van der Merwe’s injury isn’t too serious however, as he will only miss a week of rugby and be back for the Super Rugby qualifiers if the Bulls do happen to qualify after this weekend’s matches.
It is likely that Wilhelm Steenkamp will move into the position vacated by Van der Merwe after replacing him for his 50th cap, but the Bulls will have some interesting decisions to make on the bench as to who covers lock.
The next players in line are former SA under-20 locks Franco Mostert and Cornell Hess, but neither have really been in the Bulls' plans this season at all.
With Deon Stegmann fit again and ready for action, it may be a more likely bet to go into the game without a back-up lock, with two looseforwards on the bench in CJ Stander and Stegmann, and have one of the two Potgieters -- either Dewald or Jacques -- cover lock in the case of an emergency.
The Bulls already have several lineout options but it is doubtful with so much at stake the Bulls will decide to go with a rookie lock on the bench, even though there may be more danger in not doing so.
There was still some stunned faces after the Sharks defeat and the manner in which they were overran by the coastal side when the team regrouped on Monday.
But if ever this was a wake-up call, it is a harsh one, but one that is necessary if the Bulls are to have any title ambitions in the final rounds of Super Rugby this year.
There is no doubt if they play like that again their season will be over, and it will take much introspection and resolve for the team to bounce back after such a heavy defeat.
Perhaps the only positive from the weekend was that the Bulls had an extra day to recover and to regroup. An extra day to think about the way they played and to build the resolve that will be needed this weekend.
The Lions will arrive with some new found confidence after their win over the Rebels, and will want to end a horrific season on a high with a second victory in a row.
They will also take much pleasure if they can wound their neighbours, especially in a race this close.
The Bulls know their destiny is truly in their own hands now. They have made the road a lot more difficult for themselves, but only they can lift themselves out from the morasse they find themselves in.
There will be a lot said privately in team ranks this week and it will take a big effort to show that the Sharks match was a blip on the radar and not a mortal wound.
Losing Van der Merwe doesn’t help their cause much, but it should embolden them as they head into their week of preparations to face the Lions.